Written answers

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Photo of Joe O'BrienJoe O'Brien (Dublin Fingal, Green Party)
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278. To ask the Minister for Health if consideration has been given to allowing partners to attend scans in maternity hospitals, particularly the first scan at 12 weeks and anomaly scans when they take place; and, if not, if maternity hospitals are being requested to make decisions on a case-by-case basis to allow partners to attend if the mother has had previously upsetting experience, such as a scan ultimately disclosing the loss of a pregnancy. [19246/20]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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It is of course desirable that the impact of Covid-19 on the pregnancy and birthing experience of women and their families is kept to an absolute minimum.  The National Women & Infants Health Programme has provided assurance that the midwifery and obstetrical community are acutely aware of the important support provided by partners or companions and that they wish to facilitate this as far as possible.

However, in the context of the current public health emergency, each of our 19 maternity units/hospitals are facing significant challenges. Such challenges may vary considerably between units and, indeed, over time as the situation evolves. In that context, and in line with clinical advice issued by the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, an individual unit or hospital may, under certain circumstances, be forced to restrict access of partners to outpatients appointments, maternity wards and delivery theatres. It is important to remember that these restrictions are put in place to minimise the risk of spread of Covid-19 in the community and to protect hospital staff and patients as much as possible.

Decisions on any restrictions in maternity hospitals are made, implemented and reviewed at hospital level and, while very regrettable, are necessary to protect the safety of patients, the wellbeing of staff and the operability of our maternity services. However, I can assure the Deputy that, in the context of what is a rapidly evolving situation, all restrictions will be frequently reviewed and reversed as soon as possible.

With regards to the specific issues raised by the Deputy, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply to you directly.

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