05/08/2021

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'Absolutely scandalous' maternity unit restrictions on partners - Laois councillor

'Absolutely scandalous' maternity unit restrictions on partners - Laois councillor

The Covid related restrictions on hospital attendance by partners of women having babies have been described as “absolutely scandalous” by a Laois Fine Gael councillor.

Cllr Thomasina Connell said that decisions on when partners can be with women in labour or after giving birth have been left up to individual hospitals making it a “geographical lottery”.

“Partners are not permitted to attend any emergency such as miscarriage. This is absolutely scandalous and cannot be allowed to continue.

“If dinner with your partner in a hotel is allowed, surely you should be allowed into the hospital,” she said.

“They’re not allowing partners to stay throughout the early labour through to the delivery suite. This is simply not acceptable. 

“Partners are advised that they must make an appointment to attend at the hospital following the birth of their child, again  absolutely unacceptable.

“There are many women who are very anxious and staying at home even though labour has commenced . This is a very dangerous and challenging position to find themselves in. 

“It’s a very lonely situation being in hospital for hours before their partners are allowed to attend,” 

“These restrictions have given rise to significant anxiety to women and their partners over the pandemic. This is absolutely unacceptable. 

“Hospitals are exercising their own judgement in how they administer the rules. Many women are not permitted to have their partner until they are in active labour, so therefore the hospitals are making a decision about women’s labour without any input from the patient. We shouldn’t accept this position. It’s not necessarily possible to facilitate visits for women in multi occupancy antenatal wards but in fairness, most of the hospital staff have now been vaccinated and it doesn’t seem to have any rationale that partners would not be allowed to attend. The restrictions have been ordered to end in or around June 12 but hospitals are not not allowing these regulations to be input,” Cllr Connell said. 

Her motion to the June meeting of Laois County Council asks the local authority to request the Minister for Health to intervene directly and issue a ministerial directive to maternity hospitals to resolve the issue without any further delay. 

Cllr Padraig Fleming seconded her motion.

“I’ve been contacted by a lot of people with the same issue from our end of the county. It’s creating great angst and upset, with people going in to have babies, not being able to have their partners with them. I fully support the motion. In fairness we’ve contacted the Minister ourselves as well. Hopefully some clarity and flexibility will come to it. In some cases you hear there’s flexibility and in other hospitals there’s not. Let’s hope it will come to a conclusion to help everybody particularly the families concerned,” he said.

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