A CORK TD has sought reassurance from Taoiseach Micheál Martin that pregnant women and their partners will be “considered a priority” when it comes to easing restrictions.
Social Democrats TD Holly Cairns raised the ongoing need to “revise and standardise maternity restrictions in hospitals”.
“In relation to the ongoing restrictions in maternity hospitals — needless to say, everyone supports necessary restrictions — but mothers and families were understandably shocked when restrictions allowed socialising in pubs but they still had to go through labour alone.
“Fathers couldn’t attend the birth of their own children and women were sometimes receiving tragic news alone, messaging their partners in the car park.
“Not to mention that this was a postcode lottery, there was absolutely no consistency across hospitals,” she said.
“The guidelines on maternity hospitals I am consistently given date back to September. The situation has changed significantly since then, especially with the vaccine roll-out for frontline workers.
“When can families expect new updates and can you assure them that this time they will be considered a priority for the Government in relation to restrictions going forward?” she asked.
The HSE’s website currently says that, in most cases, a woman’s partner can be there for the delivery.
“Every effort will be made to ensure your partner is present at the birth. But in some hospitals, this may not be possible. Any restrictions in place are to keep everyone safe,” the HSE states.
All maternity units now have a strict no visitor policy.
In response, the Taoiseach said that public health advice is what dictates and determines the approach within hospitals.
“We have made representations to the HSE. We have made the point that many deputies have articulated in respect of this issue.
“Any changes in the future will be guided by clinical and public health advice. The situation has improved very significantly within hospitals.
“Infection among health workers has plummeted as a result of the vaccination programme. That will give us greater confidence in doing things in hospitals in the near future,” Mr Martin continued.