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Protecting human rights in childbirth

Betsi Cadwaladr legally challenged over partner restrictions

Leigh Day have sent a letter before action to Betsi Cadwaladr, on behalf of Birthrights and a local couple expecting a baby. The letter asks the Health Board to explain why there have been no substantial changes to visiting arrangements in maternity services since November.

Partners are not able to visit their other halves or their newborn babies AT ALL on the postnatal wards at units within the Board. This is despite the fact that restaurants and bars can serve customers indoors, and cinemas and other forms of indoor entertainment are open for business in Wales. And although postnatal visiting is fairly limited in other areas of Wales, Betsi Cawaladr is the only Health Board where partners are completely excluded after the birth.

Birthrights Programmes Director Maria Booker commented:

“Maternity services have a legal obligation to ensure any separation of families unless it is absolutely necessary to reduce COVID transmission. This cannot be done on a “just in case” basis. Research clearly shows the difference that support from a trusted and known partner makes to clinical outcomes. It is hard to see any justification at all for these ongoing restrictions in the current climate. We know that Betsi Cadwaladr have failed to listen to their own service users. We hope this legal action will be a wake up call to Betsi Cawaladr and other providers who do not recognise the legal limits of their powers.”

The letter before action can be read in full here.

Since the letter before action was sent, Betsi Cadwaladr have indicated on their website that as of Thursday 3rd June, partners will be able to make an appointment to visit the postnatal ward. This is a welcome step forward. We are still awaiting a full response from the Health Board to understand how this will work in practice and to understand why any visiting restrictions at all are still required in maternity services, before deciding on next steps in relation to legal action.

2 thoughts on “Betsi Cadwaladr legally challenged over partner restrictions”

  1. I teach couples Hypnobirthing here in North Wales. I regularly have expectant mums calling me, crying their eyes out, their choices not even listened to. They are made to feel stupid, with no voice. Attending appointments on their own, partners in the car. It seems they are being bullied even more so, as they are vulnerable and on their own!!!
    It needs to stop!!! NOW!
    Betsi Cadwaladwr are taking away women’s rights. With no compassion or regard for their choices.
    It breaks my heart. ☹️

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  2. My son and his girlfriend had a baby recently and it was upsetting to see that as a new family they weren’t together- especially as labour/delivery wasn’t straight forward. Even when at home no community visits to the home and having to get up/out early for postnatal checks. The story is so very different in England with partner presence/support and community midwives supporting families in their own homes. The action to support visiting in maternity services by NHSE was the right thing to do – transmission rates have been low and women have had support which from a mental health perspective cannot be underestimated. I did see a news article from a couple from Wrexham who were expecting twins and sadly one died. Whilst receiving care in England due to complications the partner was present to support but locally he had to stay in his car crying when his wife was admitted in preterm labour – it’s just such a shame that no one has listened re visiting. The impact of this is yet to unfold….

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