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Restrictions on maternity appointments are ‘barbaric’

Labour leader Alan Kelly called for the rules to be tweaked to allow partners and husbands to attend maternity appointments.

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Labour leader Alan Kelly has said Covid-19 restrictions on partners attending maternity wards with pregnant women are ‘barbaric’ (Katie Collins/PA)

Labour leader Alan Kelly has said Covid-19 restrictions on partners attending maternity wards with pregnant women are ‘barbaric’ (Katie Collins/PA)

Labour leader Alan Kelly has said Covid-19 restrictions on partners attending maternity wards with pregnant women are ‘barbaric’ (Katie Collins/PA)

Covid-19 restrictions on partners attending maternity wards with pregnant women are “barbaric”, Alan Kelly has said.

The Labour leader has called for the rules to be tweaked to allow partners and husbands to attend maternity appointments.

Mr Kelly told the Dail that the rules need to reviewed and eased as some pregnant women are being left alone after receiving bad news.

Some of the guidelines drafted by Dr Peter McKenna, clinical director of the HSE’s Women & Infants Health Programme, include a plan to allow partners to attend appointments virtually.

Mr Kelly said: “I am asking you to consider some form of changes to allow partners and husbands to be present in maternity settings with their wives and partners under specific circumstances, and not just for compassionate issues.

“It cannot be that people who have enough money are going through private consultations, can have partners present, but those who do not have enough money can’t be there.

“There has to be some customisation for women so their partners and husbands can go in limited circumstances, particularly when they have bad news.

“I know someone who was walking through a maternity hospital car park and the sight of so many men sitting inside their cars – we can do better than that.”

Mr Kelly told the Dail that a friend, whom he referred to as “Aine”, was alone when she discovered at her three-month scan that she had lost her baby.

“It was very upsetting, she was devastated, her husband is devastated,” Mr Kelly added.

“She was left crying on her own and had to go back to a ward where women were so joyous because of their children and she was left on her own.

“That is barbaric. She believes she and her husband will need therapy.”

You can't hold hands over Zoom and you certainly can't comfort someone who is getting bad news virtually or remotelyTanaiste Leo Varadkar

Current policy allows partners and husbands to attend for labour; however, tight restrictions remain around attending antenatal appointments and for scans.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said that while plans are in place to allow fathers to attend remotely, he acknowledged it is “not the same”.

“You can’t hold hands over Zoom and you certainly can’t comfort someone who is getting bad news virtually or remotely,” he added.

He told the Dail that clinical directors are concerned over the number of people allowed into hospitals as it creates a greater risk of the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Varadkar said he will raise the issue with HSE chief executive Paul Reid during their next conversation.

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