Rules to be relaxed over baby scans at Wigan's hospitals

Wigan’s hospital chiefs are preparing to lift the ban on partners attending ultrasound scans with expectant mothers.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 7:00 am

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, couples have had to deal with strict rules that have significantly affected some of the major milestones to parenthood.

Pregnant women have attended midwife appointments and ultrasound scans alone after birth partners were banned from accompanying them.

Different rules are in place across the country, after the ban was lifted three months ago and hospitals left to make their own decisions on who can attend.

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Pregnant women have been forced to attend scans alone

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has now announced it will permit partners to attend appointments from Monday.

However, they will only be allowed entry at the end of the scan and not during the procedure.

Fiona Bryant, the trust’s divisional director of midwifery, said: “Although national guidance around restrictions on visiting in hospital has been reviewed, hospital services still need to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission throughout its sites.

“With regards to ultrasound scanning, the reintroduction of partners into the scan room for dating and anomaly scans will commence from September 14.

“For clarity, only the patient’s partner or one person from the same household or support bubble will be allowed into the scan room at the end of the scan and not throughout the procedure.

“As does the patient, the attending partner will be required to wear a mask, be free of any Covid-19-related symptoms and must observe social distancing from the sonographer and aide.

“During labour, partners will be allowed to be in attendance, so long as they are from the same household or support bubble.

“This also applies when patients are moved to the maternity ward.

“These restrictions are currently being reviewed but, at the moment, are considered necessary to keep our visitors, patients and staff safe.”

Until now the trust has not allowed partners to attend appointments, including the 20-week scan when women are sometimes told potentially devastating news that their baby has died or has a serious health issue.

It is at this scan that couples can - if they wish - find out the sex of their baby.

One mum, who asked not to be named said: “I asked if the radiographer would write down the sex of our baby so we could open it together with my husband who was waiting outside in the car park but she said she wasn’t allowed to do that.

“I asked if I could facetime it and again she said that wasn’t allowed. I just don’t understand why not if my husband can’t be in the room.”

Many couples have been booking tests with private scan companies so the partner can see their baby in the womb.

Another mum said: “The professionals frown on these private scans but at least my partner got to see the baby. There were no rules about him being in the same room and everyone was wearing masks and shields and it was all very safe. I just don’t know why we can’t do this at an NHS scan.

“I appreciate we are in the middle of a pandemic but we can go to the pub together so why can’t we attend one of the most important appointments in our lives together? It just doesn’t make sense. It’s just so unfair at an already stressful time.”

She says she believes there will be some women looking forward to becoming mothers who have been told they have lost their baby while they are alone, and then have to break their news to a partner who is waiting outside.

According to Tommy’s, a charity providing information for parents-to-be and funding research into pregnancy loss, the ban on hospital visiting and people accompanying women to outpatient appointments in England was lifted in June.

It is now up to local hospital trusts and NHS bodies to decide who can attend, but there is not a consistent approach.

Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton, has also highlighted on Twitter that the Government has said partners can attend scans and the decision not to allow them is being made by individual trusts.