A coalition of organisations who have campaigned on visiting restrictions throughout the pandemic has today written to Eluned Morgan, Health Minister for Wales, urging her to revise the guidance on visiting in maternity services during the pandemic.
Despite Wales having no national restrictions on meeting others at present, visiting restrictions in maternity services are among the most restrictive in the UK. In one Health Board Cwm Taf, no visiting at all is allowed on antenatal and postnatal wards, despite the neighbouring Health Board Aneurin Bevan facilitating visiting between 8am and 8pm. In other Health Boards visiting is limited to two hours, leaving women and birthing people on their own for most of their hospital stay, and often having to look after a newborn baby despite needing rest and recovery themselves.
There is now clear evidence about the adverse impacts of visiting restrictions on both those giving birth and their partners. This evidence needs to be explicitly taken into account when considering what restrictions are proportionate to stem the transmission of COVID. The coalition is calling on the Government to give a clearer steer that families should not be separated without a very good reason now that testing and vaccination are widely available.
Maria Booker, Programmes Director for Birthrights said:
‘As a coalition we urge the Welsh Government to revise their guidance on visiting in maternity services as a matter of urgency in order to protect the right of families to be together around the time of birth. Families in Wales have suffered disproportionately and it is time for this to end.‘
Notes for editors
1. A copy of the letter can be found here.
2. The letter refers to this article by health economist Rachael Hunter that quantifies the mental health impact of the pandemic on pregnant women and that maternity providers have an important role to play in bringing down this cost.
3. The organisations who signed the letter are: Birthrights, AIMS, Pregnant then Screwed, But Not Maternity, the Fatherhood Institute, Birth Trauma Association, Doula UK, Queer Birth Club, Paternal Mental Health, Sarah Rees (service user rep, Wales).
Birthrights is the UK charity that champions respectful maternity care by protecting human rights. We provide advice and legal information to women and birthing people, train healthcare professionals to deliver rights-respecting care and campaign to change maternity policy and systems.