As Omicron cases rise, hospital trusts ban partners from wards. Pregnant ladies are left on their own again.

  • Princess Alexandra Hospital stated that women must attend their own appointments
  • The change came in reaction to revised restrictions by the Government, they claimed
  • Campaigners and MPs warned last night trusts to not reverse the gains made

Due to the resurgence of Omicron cases, pregnant women find themselves being made to go alone for appointments.

Last week, the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, Harlow, Essex announced that all women will have to go alone for antenatal visits. 

It was also forbidden to attend its Maternal and Foetal Assessment Unit with support partners, which is aimed at pregnant women who are over 22 weeks of gestation and have experienced complications.

According to the trust the modification was made due to new restrictions from the government.

Last night MPs and campaigners warned trusts not to reverse progress made following The Mail on Sunday’s Lone Births campaign.

Pregnant women are being forced to attend appointments alone again as hospitals bring back draconian restrictions following the surge of Omicron cases (stock image)

After the Omicron surge, women who are pregnant find themselves being made to return alone to their appointments. (stock image).

Tory Alicia Kearns said: ‘No, no, no. What is the point of any NHS Trust failing to learn from the mistakes made in the last two years? Partners are not “nice to haves” – they are advocates who improve outcomes for mum and baby, and they are equal partners in pregnancy, labour and the raising of children.

‘Women and their households should be treated as a bubble and this hysterical and ridiculous restriction is another symptom of the too-often broken bureaucracy of the NHS.’

NHS guidance makes it clear that partners should be allowed to attend appointments at ‘all stages’ of pregnancy. 

But trusts still have the right to set their own policies. The Mail on Sunday reached out to Princess Alexandra, and she reversed her decision.

Other hospitals in England reduced the support pregnant women can receive during labour and scans last week from 2 or 3 to 1.

The first time that pregnant woman have been subject to new restrictions is since spring. All hospitals had changed their policy and removed the ban on partners being present in the hospital. 

The Mail on Saturday ran an eight month campaign highlighting the suffering of mothers who are forced to deliver babies or undergo trauma scans.

Many trusts were accused of ‘dragging their feet’ and refusing to allow access, despite calls to do so from the Government, NHS England and campaigners. 

They were told to find ‘creative solutions’ to ensure women had support at all stages of pregnancy.

Joeli Brearley, of the Pregnant Then Screwed campaign group, said: ‘We have the data and the testimonials which demonstrate the trauma these restrictions inflict on women. 

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust (pictured) in Harlow, Essex, announced last week that women would have to attend all antenatal appointments alone

The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, Harlow, Essex (pictured) announced last week that only women should attend all antenatal appointments.

“We know that women have better outcomes when their birth partners are with them during pregnancy and labor. We have not yet found the solution for this problem in nearly two years.

‘We understand the pressure hospitals are under because of Omicron, but forcing women to go through any stage of labour on their own is not the answer. For once in this pandemic, could we consider the needs of pregnant women?’

Abbi Leibert, of the But Not Maternity campaign group, called the decision ‘hugely disheartening’, saying: ‘Considering the amount of research showing the detrimental effects of maternity restrictions on the mental and physical health of new families, it’s beyond me how such restrictions can be imposed again anywhere.’

Health Minister Maria Caulfield said: ‘Partners, friends and relatives provide essential emotional and physical support for mothers during pregnancy. 

“Mothers need to feel secure that they will always have a partner.” I want to thank The Mail on Sunday for highlighting this issue.’

An NHS spokesman said: ‘National guidance on partners attending antenatal appointments has not changed.’ But he added visits to wards were up to individual trusts.