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Changes to visiting guidance for maternity services

Last updated: 09/11/2020

Maternity services at North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) have jointly updated their visiting guidance from today (Monday 9 November 2020).

The changes to the guidance are in response to the rise in coronavirus cases in the area and to maintain the safety of women, babies and staff.

Introducing the same maternity visiting guidance at NBT, which runs Southmead Hospital and Cossham Birth Centre, and UHBW, which runs St Michael’s Hospital and Ashcombe Birth Centre at Weston General Hospital, will help to ensure a consistent approach for women at whichever hospital they choose to give birth.

The current guidance for maternity services at Southmead, Cossham Birth Centre, St Michael’s and Ashcombe Birth Centre is:

  • Scans: Women can be accompanied by one non-symptomatic person (ideally the birth partner) for their first trimester (12 week) scan and some specialist scans for fetal medicine. Find out more about the guidance around scans at UHBW and at NBT.
  • Labour and birth: A nominated non-symptomatic birthing partner is allowed to accompany women during labour and the birth. 
  • Visiting: No visitors are permitted on the maternity wards.
  • Neonatal care visiting: If your baby needs to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) please see the guidance for each organisation. The guidance for NBT and the guidance for UHBW.

There will be circumstances where it is appropriate for exceptions to be made, for example where patients need additional compassionate support. If you are a maternity patient who is affected by these changes, please contact your midwife who will be happy to discuss your individual situation and agree exceptions where possible.

The full maternity visiting guidance for NBT and the full guidance for UHBW.

Helen Blanchard, director of nursing and quality at NBT, said: “We understand that this is not the experience of pregnancy that most pregnant women and their families had anticipated – and it’s not the experience our midwives want for them either.

“But with community infection rates rising significantly, the last thing we want is for hospital infection rates to increase.

“Therefore – for the safety of every woman, every baby and every member of staff – we reluctantly need to limit the amount of people in the hospital at all times.

“There will always be lots of support available for pregnant women, including from your midwife who is on this journey with you and is committed to giving woman-centred care. 

“We know that this is a challenging time for everyone but we hope people will understand that this decision is necessary to keep everyone safe.”

Carolyn Mills, chief nurse at UHBW, added: “We fully recognise that these changes may be upsetting for many of our pregnant women and their families as they journey through their pregnancy and approach delivery.

“However, we hope they will understand that these temporary changes are necessary to protect all women and their babies and the dedicated staff committed to providing the best care possible.

“We would urge all our pregnant women to continue to attend scheduled antenatal appointments whether face-to-face or by telephone to ensure a safe pregnancy and delivery.

“The priority of maternity services is to keep pregnant women and their babies safe. We know that reducing visiting access is incredibly difficult for our pregnant women, their partners and families. These decisions are not taken lightly and we will keep the guidance under constant review.

“There is lots of support available for pregnant women and if you are using our maternity services and have any questions, concerns or particular needs that need to be taken into account, please do speak to your maternity unit’s matron or your community midwife.”

The full maternity visiting guidance for NBT and the full guidance for UHBW.