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Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns has strongly criticised the Government for failing to provide an update this week on ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in maternity hospitals.

After raising the issue in the Dáil today, Holly said:

“It is baffling that the Taoiseach made no reference to the ongoing restrictions in maternity hospitals when announcing the phased easing of lockdown measures earlier this week. The guidelines have not been updated since last September and the situation is continuing to cause great stress and hardship for expectant parents.

“The restrictions vary from hospital to hospital, meaning that women are faced with a geographical lottery when it comes to having the support of their partner at a scan or for the full duration of labour. This is particularly important if there are complications during the pregnancy or tragic circumstances at the time of birth.

“In early December, the HSE reclassified partners as an ‘essential accompanying person’ in respect of the 20-week scan. Yet they are still considered as unessential for later scans and for the majority of labour, which women should not be expected to go through alone.

“Over three months ago, the UK changed their guidelines to allow expectant mothers to be able to have one person with them at all stages of their maternity journey. It is shameful that we continue to be laggards in this area.

“There have been significant changes in our maternity hospitals since the restrictions came into force last year, including the vaccination of healthcare staff. This should provide some scope for the easing of the rules.

“I have raised this issue numerous times in the Dáil but it continues to be ignored by the Government, who seem to prioritise areas such as sport over the welfare of expectant parents.”

April 1, 2021

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