The HSE has issued updated hospital visiting guidance. The update deals in particular with visiting in maternity hospitals. The updated guidance aims to support women and their partners in sharing the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. The guidance also needs to support hospitals in managing the risk of accidental introduction of infection into the hospital and the need of women and their infants for privacy and rest. Because of this we do still need to ask partners who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been advised by public health to restrict movements not to visit the hospital. In that case a friend or a family member should be welcome.
Key points in the updated guidance are that partners who have no symptoms of COVID-19 should be welcomed at the 12 week scan as well as the 20 week scan. As in the previous guidance it says that there is a need also for flexibility at other antenatal visits also where the woman and her partner may feel a particular need to be together because there is likely to be big news or a key decision to be made. It clarifies that preventing COVID-19 infection does not require that a partner is excluded from a caesarean delivery. This previous version of the guidance already said that partners who have no symptoms should be welcome to have at least a short daily visit in inpatient areas, as well as be present for delivery in the labour wards and attend the early pregnancy assessment unit and that parents should be able to visit infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.
As time goes on we expect that many more women and their partners will be vaccinated and that this will greatly reduce the risk. The HSE will keep the guidance under review and is committed to support women and their partners being together as much as possible while doing everything we can to maintain the outstanding safety record of the maternity services through the pandemic so far.
Hospitals have committed to implementing the updated guidelines in full. However where there is a local outbreak situation the hospitals will carry out a risk assessment and may have to curtail some visiting to reduce the spread of infection. Where this happens the hospital will communicate clearly with patients regarding any changes to the visiting policy.
You can read the updated hospital visiting guidance on hpsc.ie (PDF, 274KB, 19 pages)
Last updated on: 06 / 08 / 2021