A HOSPITAL trust is welcoming back the partners of mums-to-be for maternity scans and for all stages of labour.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said it was changing its rules following a change in national guidance.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, pregnant women have had to attend scans alone and have only been allowed a partner with them during the active stage of labour.

The trust will implement guidance from NHS England to ensure safety procedures are in place to allow partners to attend scans and all stages of labour.

Steph El-Malak, head of midwifery at the Trust, said: “This has been an awful situation for everyone. Getting ready to have a baby should be a joyous family occasion, full of excitement. It’s certainly how our midwives feel, no matter how long they’ve been in the job.

“But this year it’s been different. Having to limit partners’ involvement in their baby’s scans and delivery has been heart-breaking. It’s been upsetting for everyone.

“I’m just thrilled that we can now open up our scans and delivery suites for the entire duration of the labour. Welcome back!”

Partners are now invited to attend EPAC scans and will be invited to dating, anomaly and nuchal scans will commence from Monday.

For those women with an appointment in the next two weeks the trust will call and let them know and those with an appointment more than two weeks away will receive a further letter with updated information about partners being welcome to the appointment.

The move follows the trust’s earlier change to allow partners to attend the 12-week antenatal scan in September.

In order to safely allow partners to attend the scans, the scanning rooms will be thoroughly cleaned after each appointment.

This will result in appointments being shared across both the University Hospital of North Tees or University Hospital of Hartlepool Hospital.

The trust has asked for understanding if the changes cause inconvenience.

Staff are also reminding members of the public that reducing the chances of infection of COVID-19 remains everyone’s responsibility.

Ms El-Malak: “We have a duty to our patients, babies and staff to do all we can to minimise infection and we’ll be insisting that all partners follow every safety protocol we have in place.

“From wearing masks at all times to remaining in the delivery suite throughout the duration of labour, partners must follow the instructions of staff every step of the way. This protects everyone – mum, baby, the partner and our staff who of course have a responsibility to many other families.

“We also want to remind mums-to-be and their partners to follow the government advice on COVID-restrictions as we prepare to leave lockdown and to remember ‘Hands-Face-Space’ at all times. What you do outside hospital impacts our scanning rooms and delivery suites.

“Please do what it takes to avoid bringing COVID-19 into our hospitals.”

Partners will be required to remain on the delivery suite for the duration of the labour to limit the risk of infection.

All partners are asked not to come to the hospital if they are experiencing any symptoms of Covid-19.