The head of the NHS has come under pressure from Tatton MP Esther McVey to set out when promised on the spot Covid tests will be rolled out to allow partners to support expectant mothers in labour.
Ms McVey said childbirth was “one of life’s most significant events” and action was needed to ensure the experience could be shared. As it stands many hospitals are only allowing partners in when a woman is in the final stages of birth.
But Ms McVey, along with a group of cross party MPs want the partner to be allowed in to support during the early stages of childbirth and has called on NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens to set out when the 15 minute tests Government promised for maternity wards will be available.
Ms McVey said: “I have spoken to expectant mothers who are not only facing the anxiety of giving birth in a pandemic but the added fear they may be forced to give birth alone. I have also heard of women being given the devastating news their baby has died and there is no one there supporting them as partners are kept out of scans. These tests need to be delivered as promised.
“The damage these Covid restrictions are having on women’s mental health is profound and in many cases, it could be prevented by allowing them support.”
The MPs say allowing partners in for the birth or scans is different to other restrictions in place on visitors for illness or medical reasons. They want couples to be classed as a bubble so expectant mothers get the needed support.
A recent study found 97 per cent said lockdown had increased their anxiety about giving birth.
In October Boris Johnson said: “We will roll out quick turnaround tests in special clinical settings so those going through cancer treatment, women giving birth, those in paediatric settings can have their loved ones around them.
“They will be able to be tested on entry to make sure their treatments, labour and visits can be done as safely as possible and the risk of infection in hospitals is minimised.”