Róisín Shortall TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, and Cork South West TD, Holly Cairns, have called on the HSE to ease the restrictions in maternity wards that prevent partners being present for the entirety of the mother’s labour and for the duration of the hospital stay.

Deputy Cairns said:

“In the past few weeks I’ve received many calls and messages from pregnant people, new mothers and their partners who are very angry and upset about the ongoing visiting restrictions in maternity hospitals. The limitations also prevent partners or fathers from attending antenatal scans and appointments.

“I know public health is the priority, as it should be, but it’s difficult to understand why you are allowed to attend a wedding with 49 other people, but your partner can’t accompany you to a prenatal scan.

“The Covid-19 restrictions in maternity hospitals were introduced six months ago. As the situation has evolved, many other restrictions in general society have eased and I would urge the HSE and the hospitals to revise these restrictions as a matter of urgency.

“Some maternity hospitals in Dublin have seen a slight easing of restrictions, yet in Cork it’s the opposite. Partners can only be present for active labour and aren’t permitted to attend any other part of it, including prenatal scans. This is hard enough when everything goes well but is even more awful if there are complications. No-one should have to be alone at a time like this.”

Deputy Shortall, who is the party’s spokesperson on Health, added:

“Inconsistent practices in maternity hospitals only adds to a general confusion among the public. We in the Social Democrats have consistently argued for coherent policies that are supported by clear rationale and shared evidence.

“Without these basic features, public confidence and adherence to guidelines will waiver. When mothers, their partners or family members are treated differently in different hospitals, it creates unnecessary upset and frustration.

“This situation highlights underlying issues in our under-resourced maternity sector. Partners or close family members not only provide emotional support but also practical assistance, from nursing the baby to allowing the mother to have a shower.”

September 8, 2020

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