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easing of restrictions Rotunda Hospital to expand visiting hours for partners

While some maternity units have eased restrictions, there are still tight limits in place

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The Rotunda Hospital in Dublin is extending visiting hours for partners as other maternity hospitals have been urged to ease visitor restrictions.

Professor Fergal Malone, Master of the Rotunda Hospital, said in-patients will now have much improved visiting options.

"We're doubling the visiting in the evenings, from 4pm till 8pm in the evening, and longer on the weekends from 1pm till 8pm,” he said.

"And by doing this we're going to be hopefully able to get partners in for a longer time without, hopefully, compromising any infection control standards.

"It will include anti-natal wards, post-natal wards and indeed for our gynecology patients.

“So any of our in-patients in the hospital at the moment will have a much improved visiting options."

While some maternity units have eased restrictions, there are still tight limits in place.

The HSE's Director of Women and Infant Health, Dr Peter McKenna, says they should consider the improving Covid-19 situation, with the community rate falling and healthcare staff vaccinated.

“I would be asking hospitals to have a close look at their situation and bear in mind the community rate is falling, staff have been vaccinated,” Dr McKenna said earlier.

“And hopefully, they will consider themselves in a position to become more liberal.”

The HSE has already issued a mandate to maternity hospitals allowing them to begin easing restrictions as the Covid-19 situation improves.

Dr Krysia Lynch, Chair of the Association for Improvements in Maternity Services (AIMS) Ireland said yesterday the news was “very welcome” for expectant parents.

“It has been a very, very long haul for parents and we are delighted to see some kind of light at the end of the tunnel,” she told Lunchtime Live.

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“There has been a mandate from the HSE to enable individual hospitals to try and ease some of the restrictions.”

Dr Lynch said partners should never have been viewed as “visitors” when people were giving birth.

“Especially when somebody is just going into labour, they are not visitors, they are really part of that process,” she said. “So, I think a key issue for many, many people has been the process of arriving at the maternity hospital.

“When you do arrive it is exciting and it is mildly terrifying at the same time. You have anxieties and you have hopes and you have got fears.

“Then you leave the person who has been supporting you, go and get a COVID test - and hope to god it is negative - and then you have to wait to be allowed to be in a maternity birthing suite and to be allowed to have you partner come into you.

“You only get that when you are in labour enough and it could be four, five, six, seven, twelve hours in there on your own – and that has proven to be extraordinarily difficult as well.”

Joanne in Drogheda told the show said she was “thrilled” restrictions are being eased ahead of her due date in May.

“This will be my second baby and I suppose the restrictions are completely understandable and at the end of the day, the hospital has to look after its staff because if the staff are not there, there is nobody to look after the mammies and the babies so I can understand the restrictions up until now,” she said.

“I suppose now we have the vaccine and numbers are coming down, it is great to hear they are starting to ease them.”

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