The impact of banning partners from supporting wives and girlfriends in labour is to be examined by the Government’s UK Covid-19 Inquiry in a victory for The Mail on Sunday’s Lone Births campaign.
Inquiry chairwoman Baroness Hallett concluded the issue should be included as a result of the ‘overwhelming weight of opinion’.
The original scope of the inquiry did not include looking at the impact of draconian restrictions that forced many mothers to attend scans and give birth alone.
Cases reported by the MoS included a father who had to sit in a hospital car park while his wife had surgery after a miscarriage. He had also been banned from the scan that showed their baby had died.
Inquiry chairwoman Baroness Hallett concluded the issue should be included as a result of the ‘overwhelming weight of opinion’ [File photo]
All hospitals finally changed their policies last May, eight months after the MoS highlighted the plight of women being forced to give birth and attend traumatic scans alone.
A review by Baroness Hallett of the proposed terms of reference for the inquiry last week concluded that antenatal and postnatal care should be added to its scope, alongside wider implications for babies and children of Covid restrictions.
Joeli Brearley, founder of the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, said: ‘We are delighted this has been included. Throughout the pandemic we felt that the mental and physical health risks for a mother and her baby were not adequately assessed when banning partners from maternity wards.
‘The impact, for some families, has been devastating. It is imperative that an inquiry considers whether this policy was reasonable and justified.’
Baroness Hallett’s review said respondents raised ‘concerns about the mental health impact on parents from difficult experiences during pregnancy – such as attending scans and giving birth without the support of a partner’.
It recommended looking at how restrictions on in-person postnatal visits from midwives affected babies’ development. The inquiry is due to begin public hearings next year. Baroness Hallett said: ‘People who have suffered most during the pandemic will be at the heart of the Inquiry’s work.’ She also wants the impact on children and young people to be examined.
Boris Johnson will review her recommendations before approving the final terms of reference.
Tory MP Alicia Kearns said: ‘It’s important that the inhumane and dangerous ban on partners for scans, labour and miscarriages faces the scrutiny it deserves. We must ensure the inquiry can identify why so many NHS Trusts chose to fail to protect women and babies.’