The ongoing maternity restrictions in Letterkenny University Hospital, and in other locations across the state, are nothing short of a disgrace, according to a Donegal TD.
Deputy Pearse Doherty (SF) said: "While the country is in the midst of a reopening in terms of education, retail and hospitality; pregnant women and their partners are still being forgotten.
Many families are having to pay for private scans so that partners can get a glimpse of their baby before the birth.
“The stress and isolation they are facing is not being given the attention it deserves from the government."
The Donegal TD said that Sinn Féin had repeatedly raised this issue. They have asked that the Minister intervene to allow pregnant women to be supported by their partners at appointments and scans, for the full duration of labour, and at every opportunity where it can be safe to do so.
Regarding recent easing of restrictions, Deputy Doherty said: "While the Minister announced the easing of restrictions, they neither go far enough and furthermore they are not being implemented across every hospital on the ground in the same manner.
“Partners are still being denied access to scans and appointments. Many families are having to pay for private scans so that partners can get a glimpse of their baby before the birth.
“In the last week, I have spoken to a mother who received the worst possible news about her pregnancy. In spite of the apparent easing of restrictions, the pregnant woman was left to face this news alone while her partner waited outside in the carpark of Letterkenny Hospital because it happened during a routine appointment rather than at the 20-week scan which the partner could attend."
The Donegal TD also hit out at the 30-minute per day slots for partners to attend after birth.
"Partners are not visitors," he said. "They need to be there to support the mother and allow her to do the practical things like have a shower or take a rest. This can’t be done in 30-minutes.
“Without action from the Minister to ensure that partner access is being guaranteed across all hospitals, women will continue to be badly let down.
“The vast majority of staff, pregnant women and their partners are now vaccinated.
“It seems bizarre that a pregnant woman and their partner could sit in a restaurant together, or get on a plane for a holiday abroad, but a partner still cannot support their pregnant wife or girlfriend through childbirth, until she is dilated by an arbitrary amount that differs between hospitals.
“This saga has dragged on for far too long. While the Government dilly-dally and pay lip service to the issue, they are failing to take the action needed to solve the problem."
Deputy Doherty said he had written to the Minister for Health again, as well as to Saolta and Letterkenny University Hospital management asking that restrictions be eased immediately.
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