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.