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Flitwick
Thursday, 22 April 2021

Changes announced to Bedfordshire Hospitals’ maternity services

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Visiting restrictions in maternity services to be relaxed further

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed from 12 April 2021, visiting restrictions in maternity services will be relaxed further. One support partner will be allowed to accompany women at ALL antenatal and scan appointments as well as being allowed to visit for one hour per day on the postnatal wards.

The Trust said that it knows the additional relaxing of restrictions will be welcome news to women and their support partners as they will be able to share the experience of these important antenatal appointments and get the additional support they need throughout all stages of their pregnancy journey.

These changes are applicable to both Bedford Hospital and the Luton and Dunstable University Hospital.

The Trust said it continues to encourage all pregnant women and their support partners to use the rapid coronavirus (COVID) testing service (also known as Lateral Flow Testing) ahead of attending their antenatal / scan appointments.

This rapid testing is available at various centres across Bedfordshire and is managed by Bedford Borough, Luton Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils. These are all walk-in testing centres so no appointment is required.

The Trust asks that all pregnant women and support partners to be tested no more than 72hrs before their appointment date.

These test results will not only help the Trust to manage any asymptomatic (people with no coronavirus symptoms) COVID positive patients in a controlled way, but will also reduce the risk of the virus spreading in the hospitals.

When there are higher incidences of COVID-19 cases locally the Trust said it will have to be extremely careful about further lifting visiting restrictions.

It’s important to note that these relaxing of restrictions could change at short notice if it becomes unsafe to continue.

The Trust said that it still needs to limit the footfall on both hospital sites to not only protect patients but to also protect the staff, keep them well so they can continue to provide safe and essential quality patient care.

Emma Hardwick, director of midwifery at Bedfordshire Hospitals, said:

“We have always understood the anxieties and stress maternity visiting restrictions are having on our maternity patients so hope this proves to be incredibly welcomed news for many.

“As some people who’ve contracted COVID can display no symptoms (known as being asymptomatic) and can still pass the virus on to others, we are grateful for the local Councils’ introduction of the rapid testing service.

“This will enable us to identify asymptomatic cases, which will reduce the spread of the virus in our hospitals”.

“The Trust is working extremely hard to plan for further maternity visiting restrictions to be lifted in line with national guidance. This will be done as soon as it is safe to do so and we will update everyone when such plans have been finalised.

“Using the rapid testing service, adhering to social distancing, wearing facemasks at all times whilst in our hospitals and practicing good hand hygiene will definitely help us to progress smoothly on this journey in a timely manner.”

Sleeping newborn boy in the first days of life Image-By-Oksana-AdobeStock_269043563.
Sleeping newborn boy in the first days of life Image  By Oksana AdobeStock_269043563.

FAQs for added clarification

Where does my support partner wait when coming with me to my appointment?

Women should attend and book in for their antenatal / scan appointment at their appointment time on their own. Your support partner should wait outside of the maternity entrance and will be telephoned by their partner and advised of the scan room number once the patient has been called in for their scan. Once the scan is completed the partner will leave the scan department and the patient will wait for their report and notes.

Where are the Lateral Flow Testing centres?

Bedford Borough

John Bunyan Sports & Fitness Centre, Mile Road, Bedford MK42 9TS

Testing will be available from 7am to 12pm, and from 1pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday. Free parking available on-site.

Central Bedfordshire

Flitwick Leisure Centre, Steppingley Road, Flitwick, Bedfordshire MK45 1TH

The testing centre at Flitwick is open 7 days a week, from 8am to 8pm. Parking is available at the centre.

The Dunstable Centre, Court Drive, Dunstable, Bedfordshire LU5 4JD

The testing centre at Dunstable is open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm. Parking is available at the Grove Park car park, in front of Go Bowling, and will be free whilst it is being used as a testing site

Saxon Pool and Leisure Centre in Biggleswade, Saxon Drive, Bedfordshire SG18 8SU

The test centre at Biggleswade will operate on a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, from 8am to 8pm. Parking is available at the centre. Please note a PCR testing centre (for those with symptoms) also operates from Saxon Pool and Leisure Centre in Biggleswade on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Luton

Lewsey Community Centre, Landrace Road, LU4 0SW

Farley Community Centre, Delphine Close, LU1 5RE

Luton Central Library, St George’s Square

All rapid testing centres in Luton are open 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

What is a Lateral Flow Test and how does it work?

A rapid test, also called a lateral flow test, is a test for people who do not have coronavirus symptoms. The lateral flow test is designed to detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad.

The test will involve you taking a swab of the back of your throat and inside of your nose. You will give the swab to trained staff at the test centre who will be able to process the results there.

The sample runs along the surface of the pad, showing at the end a visual positive or negative result dependant on the presence of the virus (similar to a pregnancy test). It takes less than 15 minutes to self-administer the test, they do not require a laboratory and you will get your result within 30-45 minutes by text or email.

What should I do with my test results?

When attending either Bedford Hospital or the Luton and Dunstable (L&D) Hospital for your antenatal / scan appointment, please show the email or text message with yours and your support partner’s test results to the member of maternity staff at the reception desk.

What happens if my lateral flow test is positive but my support partner’s is negative?

If your support partner has been in contact with you within the last 48hrs then they will not be able to attend the maternity unit, even if their own test is negative. They will be legally required to self-isolate for 10 days.

However, even though you’ve tested positive for coronavirus, it’s really important that we still see you so that we can care for you and your baby. We will make necessary amendments to ensure the safety of you, your baby and our staff is maintained at all times.

What do I do if I’ve had a positive COVID test in the last 90 days?

If you’ve had a positive PCR test (so not a lateral flow test but a laboratory confirmed test) result in the last 90 days (not including the last 10 days in which you would be required to self-isolate), and you have no symptoms, then you will notneed to be tested. This is because an infection can continue to show as a positive result for up to 90 days afterwards without you being infectious.

What are the current maternity restrictions in place at Bedfordshire Hospitals?

A reminder of the current maternity visiting guidelines in place at Bedfordshire Hospitals are:

  • One support partner can accompany women to all antenatal and scan appointments
  • One support partner can accompany women throughout all stages of labour once on delivery suite
  • One support partner can accompany women in theatre for all planned and emergency C-Sections
  • One support partner can visit for one hour per day on the postnatal wards
  • When attending appointments and labour/delivery, support partners are respectfully asked to:
    • Wait outside of the antenatal clinic until their partner is called in for their appointment
    • Maintain a 2 metre distance from staff
    • Wear a facemask covering their nose and mouth at all times – partners may be asked to leave the hospital building if they are not medically exempt and refuse to wear a facemask

When will the other restrictions be lifted such as having two birth partners?

The Trust reviews the current restrictions on a regular basis and takes into account factors such as the local prevalence of COVID in the community. We really want to be in a position to allow two birth partners back to support women in delivery and more visiting on the postnatal wards but we have to prioritise the safety of everyone and it just isn’t the right time to further relax these restrictions. This position can change quite rapidly and we will waste no time in easing them when safe to do so. Please also remember that children are not allowed to accompany pregnant women to any antenatal/scan appointments.

I have concerns about my pregnancy, where can I find out more information?

If you have any concerns about your pregnancy, please contact your named Midwife or call to speak to a member of the maternity team at Bedford Hospital on 01234 795805 or 01582 502285 for the L&D Hospital.

You can find more information on pregnancy and coronavirus on the NHS website.

John Guinn
I am the editor of The Flitwick Chronicle. This is an independent, local news service based in Bedfordshire. The Chronicle provides local news that is investigative, inclusive and relevant to the residents of Flitwick.

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