Partners were banned from attending routine checks during the pandemic’s first peak. Research by the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services found that half of London NHS trusts who provided information had imposed restrictions — and at least two planned to continue doing so.
Rebecca Best, a doctor who helped compile the data from Freedom of Information requests, said: “I worked as a midwife during the first peak, and saw how detrimental the blanket restrictions on partners were.
“We did not know what to expect the first time, so preventing transmission in hospitals was the priority, but by trying to act in women’s best interests we caused distress, separating families at some of the most painful and joyful moments in life.
“We know the impact of denying women a companion during maternity care, and we now know that we can safely accommodate partners. To think that we might go back to the restrictions of the first peak without learning from practice not only lacks compassion, but unnecessarily isolates women, increases the risk of negative outcomes and wrongly gives partners the message that they are not vital parts of their baby’s life.”
One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, meaning there are about 250,000 a year. The Standard has been told more couples have been choosing to pay for scans at private clinics so both partners can be present.
Last month, NHS England, with the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists , published new guidance allowing partners and visitors to attend maternity units.
But it is up to each NHS trust to decide on how and when to implement it. Dr Edward Morris, president of the RCOG, said: “There is no evidence to suggest coronavirus causes miscarriage or babies to develop abnormally.
"We understand not having a partner at appointments, especially during upsetting circumstances, has caused a great deal of anxiety, stress and upset."