During this pandemic, pregnant women here in our area have had to deal with the often-daunting prospect of attending a scan or even giving birth unaccompanied. Partners feel at times that they have been needlessly left out.
It is a welcome step that partners have once again been able to routinely be present for every stage of labour and childbirth, and I am pleased that hospitals have been told they can relax restrictions on family members attending other maternity appointments. During this crisis, everyone recognises that the first priority has been maintaining core maternity services, and I commend midwives and doctors for keeping maternity services going.
In these exceptional times, and especially as we enter another national lockdown, some sacrifices may be unavoidable. But it is devastating to hear reports of mothers experiencing miscarriages or difficult early stage labour without birth partners, and I strongly believe that all hospitals should work to strike the right balance, and ensure that partners and family members can attend maternity appointments wherever it is safe to do so.
My Conservative colleague, Alicia Kearns MP, has campaigned to get local health leaders to get on with implementing new guidelines which allow family members to be present at scans and during all of labour, and I applaud her efforts. I am also pleased that the Prime Minister has announced that 15-minute rapid tests will be prioritised for maternity, so women don’t have to give birth alone.