A HOSPITAL trust is easing restrictions on partners attending antenatal appointments – but is urging people to take Covid-19 tests before attending.

As restrictions on partners accompanying pregnant women to all antenatal appointments are lifted, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Hospital Foundation Trust is appealing to all mums-to-be to keep themselves and others staff safe by taking regular self-administered Covid-19 tests, which are available free of charge from the government.

Steph El-Malak, head of midwifery services at the trust, said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that we can now allow one partner to attend all scans and antenatal appointments with women under our care.

It’s been heart-breaking to know that our mums have had to attend so many appointments alone, unable to share their joy with a partner.

"Now things are getting better we can allow one partner to come to all the antenatal appointments, as well as scans."

“We’re asking all our mums and the partner attending the appointments, scans and birth to get the lateral flow kits and take the tests twice a week. Even if they have been vaccinated, there is still a chance they could unknowingly pass on the virus to someone else.

“We’ve done everything we can to avoid breakouts of the virus among our staff as we have so many women relying on us. We’re asking the people we’re caring for to help us by taking the tests.”

Any pregnant woman under the trust’s care who self-tests as positive is asked to report their result on the government app and call the trust on 01642 324239/382718 for further advice. Anyone planning to attend an appointment with a pregnant woman who self-tests as positive should report their result and follow all self-isolation guidance and not attend any antenatal appointments or scans.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has strict infection control procedures in place, including mandatory wearing of masks. Patients are requested to follow all

Covid-19 regulations in hospital and adhere to any specific advice they may receive before attending hospital for appointments or procedures. Regular testing with lateral flow kits is also advised for outpatients.

Lateral Flow tests can be requested, free of charge, from: www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests