As of today, every hospital in Ireland will have the same rules for partners attending maternity services 1 month ago

As of today, every hospital in Ireland will have the same rules for partners attending maternity services

Ever since the start of the pandemic in March of last year, pregnant women across Ireland have had to attend maternity screenings, scans and appointments without their partners present.

Many have also had to go through most of the early stages of labour without their birthing partner there, something which, needless to say, has caused great distress and heartache to so many. And fathers and partners, unable to support the person they love through this, have been locked out, forced to wait out on the street, in car parks or even at home.

And despite promises that this would be dealt with and that this situation would be no more, many have still been met with restrictions, lack of support, and no partners attending up until now.

However, yesterday, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed in an interview on Newstalk's The Hard Shoulder that as of today, every hospital in Ireland will have the same rules for partners attending maternity services.

Donnelly was now speaking more than a month after he originally expressed frustration at the refusal of some maternity hospitals to allow partners to attend during scans and birth.

Back in May, the Minister instructed the HSE to contact all 19 maternity units and tell them that “very clearly” that NPHET believed visits should happen “at a minimum” for 30 minutes per day, throughout labour, during the 20-week scan and during neonatal intensive care.

And on the radio last night, Donnelly said 16 maternity units were fully compliant with the rules by the end of last week and the other three would be fully compliant 'by the end of today.'

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Donnelly said a number of recent high-profile incidents in which partners were not allowed enter the maternity unit while women were suffering miscarriages were “absolutely heart-breaking.”

The Minister also confirmed that new rules governing miscarriages and other emergency situations are being drawn up this week – but admitted it could take three or four weeks to roll them out across the country.

“The plan is, in the coming weeks – so we are only talking three or four weeks – the plan is, in the coming weeks, the emergency visits will be facilitated."

Asked why emergency visits can't be facilitated any earlier, Donnelly explained:

"We have got to listen to our clinicians. I am not an obstetrician. I am not an infectious disease specialist. I am not responsible for keeping mums and babies directly safe in any individual hospital. We set policy and we have set very clear policy but the flip side of this is we have to trust our clinicians."

The policies that have been in place up until now have, as their main goal, been in place to protect mothers and their babies, the Minister explains.

"It doesn't always feel like it when you can't get in or if you are in there and your partner can't come in to support you, but ultimately, they are looking to keep mums and babies safe."