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Four of the five maternity units not compliant with easing of maternity restrictions are in the South East, one at the General Hospital for Carlow and Kilkenny

It's as a protest on the issue is taking place at St Luke's today

Five maternity units are not compliant with the easing of restrictions on partners of pregnant women according to the Health Minister.

Four of them are in the South East, with one at St Luke’s General Hospital for Carlow and Kilkenny.

Stephen Donnelly’s said the five not complying are citing local safety issues.

Partners of pregnant women are still not allowed to accompany them at all times, but the HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer has written to maternity units to instruct an easing of restrictions.

They’ve been instructed to allow visitation of at least half an hour a day and that partners have the right to be there for the 20-week scan, through all the birth process including induction, and be given access to neonatal care.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says five of the 19 maternity units are not fully compliant with this, noting “Tipperary University Hospital, an issue with its daily visiting, Waterford University Hospital the same, Letterkenny University Hospital there’s an issue with high Covid in the area and staff absenteeism, St Luke’s in Kilkenny there’s an issue specifically around the scan, there isn’t room for the partners to be safely accommodated with the scan and so we’re basically getting the equipment moved to somewhere where it is and Wexford General Hospital as well on daily visiting”.

The Minister has said those five units are being engaged with to ensure a further easing of restrictions on maternity care.

It’s as nationwide protests about the ongoing restrictions take place today at St Luke’s and in Wexford too.  (More on that here).

The HSE issued this statement to KCLR this morning:

“National guidance is being adhered to by all Maternity Units in the Ireland East Hospital Group.   This includes advice provided by the local hospital Infection Prevention and Control Teams specific to the hospital.

With the exception of the National Maternity Hospital, the three Regional Maternity Units in IEHG are part of a general hospital campus and are therefore not standalone Maternity Hospitals.  As a consequence, these hospitals have specific infrastructural challenges where social distancing cannot be sufficiently met within the COVID guidelines while facilitating partners to attend with the maternity patients. Restrictions are in place to ensure that the hospitals are protecting all patients who may be required to attend the hospital, this includes a large number of patients who have not yet been vaccinated, including our maternity patients and their partners.

The hospitals restrictive infrastructural challenges, particularly where wards are co-located with other patients and areas where spaces are not sufficient and contrary to Infection Prevention and Control guidance, we cannot further ease partner restrictions at this time.  However, work is ongoing to ensure that as much access as possible can be facilitated  in the coming weeks as more people from vulnerable groups are vaccinated.  These changes will be led by  Infection Prevention Control advice.

St Luke’s General Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny have worked on a solution which will facilitate partners into the 20 week scan by May 31st.  Partners can also attend active labour and theatre for scheduled Caesarean Sections.

Ireland East Hospital Group and St Luke’s General Hospital are continuously working to see how restrictions can be further eased for all maternity patients and their partners, as soon as possible.”

Midwife Brenda O’Toole spoke to our Eimear Ní Bhraonáin on KCLR Live this morning – listen back here: