New Wigan mothers more isolated than ever during pandemic

Women giving birth at Wigan Infirmary have felt more isolated than ever during the coronavirus pandemic, a survey suggests.

The National Childbirth Trust said the removal of support from partners or family members as a result of Covid-19 restrictions caused extreme anxiety and fear for expectant mothers.The Care Quality Commission polled 23,000 women aged 16 and over across England who gave birth in February 2021 on their experience of maternity services – including 109 at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL).Patients were asked a range of questions and gave a score between 0 – indicating a very negative experience – and 10, representing the best possible result.

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When asked if their partner or someone else was able to stay with them as much as they wanted, mothers gave WWL an average score of just 2.3 out of 10.This was down from 5.9 in 2019 – the last time the survey was held – and the lowest figure since it began in 2015.Across England as a whole, a score of 3.5 was awarded for the same question, compared to 7.5 two years earlier.Elizabeth Duff, senior policy adviser at the NCT, said: “The impact of the removal of this support and advocacy can be immense.“We have heard reports of women experiencing extreme anxiety, fear and isolation as a result.”Just 61 per cent of women nationally said they saw or spoke to a midwife as much as they wanted during the postnatal period, which Ms Duff said is an area of great concern.Mothers gave WWL a score of 7.5 out of 10 for whether they were left alone by midwives or doctors at a worrying time.Meanwhile, the trust was given a score of ​7.2 for its mental health support.Rabina Tindale, chief nurse at WWL, said: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, maternity services at WWL had to reduce the risk to mothers, babies, and staff, keeping them safe in line with Government guidance.“During this time, WWL maternity services allowed at least one birth partner in attendance during delivery and maintained visits from the birth partner.“During February 2021, WWL was unable to accommodate any more than one support partner due to infection prevention and control measures as part of the visiting restrictions that were still in place at the time within most areas of the hospital.“We realise this may have created undue worry for pregnant women at this time and acknowledge that the scores on The Care Quality Commission survey would reflect this.“WWL would like to thank our patients and their loved ones for their patience, understanding and support during this time.“WWL is happy to see that WWL was given a high score of 7.2 for mental health support and that our patients agreed with women across the country that they were treated with respect and dignity, and that they had confidence and trust in staff.“Currently, whilst there are still some restrictions for open visiting at WWL sites, two birth partners are now able to attend the birth.“Once mothers are on the maternity ward, the birth partners are then able to attend at alternate agreed times during the day. These restrictions will be regularly reviewed in line with WWL guidance.”

New mums only gave WWL 2.3 out of 10

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