Thank you for contacting me about maternity care during the Covid-19 outbreak.
During this pandemic, pregnant women here in Hastings and Rye have had to deal with the often-daunting prospect of attending a scan or even giving birth unaccompanied. Partners – advocates for the woman and unborn child - feel at times they have needlessly been left out.
It is a welcome step that partners can once again routinely be present for every stage of labour and the birth. I am also glad hospitals have been told they can relax restrictions on family members attending other maternity appointments. During this crisis, everyone recognises that the first priority has been maintaining core maternity services, and I commend midwifes and doctors for keeping maternity services going. Many families also accept that in these exceptional times some sacrifices may be unavoidable.
However, I know constituents are concerned that bureaucrats are needlessly dragging their heels when it comes to letting partners back into more maternity appointments. You may be interested to learn that an MP-colleague of mine, who is herself pregnant, has coordinated a campaign calling on local health leaders to get on with implementing new guidelines which allow family members to be present at scans and during all of labour. I have supported her campaign. In September, I wrote to the CEO of East Sussex Healthcare Trust, Joe Chadwick-Bell, to outline my concerns regarding pregnant women, their care and guidance about partners attending appointments and births. She reassured me that throughout the pandemic the hospitals have adhered to Trust and PHE guidance around visiting and attendance at appointments, but this is not without challenge.
Finally, it is devastating to hear reports of mothers experiencing miscarriages or difficult early stage labour without birth partners, and I hope that hospitals listen to the Prime Minister who said that it is of the “upmost importance” that every hospital allows partners to be present in what are “incredibly special moments in people's lives”.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Sally-Ann Hart MP