Healthcare workers being vaccinated ‘will be taken into consideration’ in reviewing maternity hospital restrictions

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The easing of maternity hospital restrictions was not included in the government’s roadmap for reopening the country.

THE FACT THE majority of healthcare workers are vaccinated against Covid-19 “will be taken into consideration” in determining restrictions at maternity hospitals, according to the HSE. 

Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns said this week that the current maternity hospital guidelines were set in September.

With the vaccination of frontline healthcare workers, the situation has changed significantly, she told the Dáil.

 ”It seems like the policy is for the government to just wash its hands of it. Over three months ago the UK changed their policy to allow expectant mothers to have someone with them at all stages of their maternity journey. It is unfathomable, that this wasn’t addressed this week along with other things like sports,” she told Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

The refusal to lift a ban preventing partners of expectant mothers from attending scans and early labour was also described as “incomprehensible” by the Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy.

Throughout the pandemic, restrictions have been imposed on expectant mothers and their partners. 

Partners were not allowed to attend the 20-week anatomy scan for most of 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions before the position was reversed by many hospitals as cased numbers eased. Partners were also only allowed attend the delivery room during the late stages of labour and during the birth.

Visiting by partners were allowed in some hospitals for short periods of time in the days after the birth, but others did not allow any visits. 

Cairns told the Dáil that back in September the Taoiseach acknowledged that a national approach should be taken in relation to this. “Of course it should never have been a geographical lottery,” she said.

The easing of maternity hospital restrictions was not included in the government’s roadmap for reopening the country.

HSE

The HSE told The Journal that each maternity unit will be risk assessing the current arrangements and will advise on any necessary changes based on each maternity hospital/units circumstances locally.

“As healthcare workers complete their vaccination schedule this will be taken into consideration in determining local measures,” the HSE said.

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“Equally, local considerations will have to assess the newly reported risks to the baby should the mother be unfortunate to contract Covid-19.

“We appreciate the patience shown by families as we work through these difficult months, providing high quality maternity and infant care and keeping our patients and services safe from Covid-19,” the statement concluded.

Hundreds of new or expecting parents wrote to the Minister of Health last year appealing for restrictions at maternity hospitals to be lifted.

Emotional and angry emails seen by TheJournal.ie detail how women were left terrified of going through labour alone, without their partners. 

Others spoke about the harrowing stories of being told that they had had a miscarriage when they were sitting alone in a maternity hospital, with their partners left in car parks.

In one email, one expectant mother detailed “one of the most upsetting moments of my life”.

Updates on maternity hospital restrictions during the pandemic can be found here.

Throughout the pandemic, restrictions have been imposed on expectant mothers and their partners.

Throughout the pandemic, restrictions have been imposed on expectant mothers and their partners.

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