Changes announced for women and support partners accessing maternity services run by acute trust

21 April 2021

Issued by Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust (SaTH)

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) is pleased to welcome one support partner for all women attending antenatal appointments and ultrasound scans at hospital sites from Monday 19 April onwards.

With the support of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin councils, maternity services users and their chosen support partner can access a lateral flow test prior to attending antenatal and ultrasound scan appointments.

The introduction of this testing will enable a chosen support person to accompany women to some appointments whilst also ensuring the safety of staff and other people using maternity services. Testing will also allow SaTH to work more quickly towards the full reinstatement of visiting to maternity services.

Changes to visiting from Monday, 19 April, onwards:

Attendance for antenatal appointments

We are pleased to welcome back one support partner for each woman at the following antenatal appointments within the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, Oswestry Maternity Unit (The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) Bridgnorth Midwife Led Unit (Bridgnorth Community Hospital), Ludlow Midwife Led Unit (Ludlow Community Hospital) and Whitchurch Community Hospital:

Booking appointment (at around 12 weeks), 16 weeks, 25 weeks, 28 weeks, 31 weeks, 34 weeks, 36 weeks, 38 weeks, 40 weeks and 41 weeks.

Regrettably, support partners cannot currently attend antenatal appointments at GP surgeries, however we are working with GP colleagues and will update on any changes as soon as possible.

Attendance for pregnancy ultrasound scans

One support partner is permitted to attend all pregnancy ultrasound scans.

Attendance for support partners at Day Assessment Unit and Triage

Due to space and capacity within these departments, we are currently unable to accommodate support partners. Partners will be contacted if needed.

The Delivery Suite

One birth partner can attend and will be given a visiting wristband

Antenatal and postnatal wards

  • Visiting to our wards is staggered and must be booked in advance
  • Antenatal Ward: 10am-12 midday
  • Postnatal Ward: 1pm-3pm
  • One support partner may visit the ward for one hour between the allocated times
  • Under current coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines, children are not able to visit

Postnatal appointments

Support partners are not currently able to attend postnatal appointments.

We are constantly reviewing these restrictions and are working hard to relax them, where possible, as soon as it is safe to do so. We would like to thank you for your continued patience and understanding. We will communicate any further changes as soon as we are able to.

If you have additional needs or require additional support at any appointments, please speak to your midwife.

Information on lateral flow testing for pregnant women and support partners

 Lateral flow testing for women and their support partner is carried out to detect COVID-19 in people who are asymptomatic (not displaying symptoms).   

  • To find your closest lateral flow testing site and for more information on lateral flow home testing in Telford & Wrekin, please visit telford.gov.uk.
  • To find your closest lateral flow testing site and for more information on lateral flow home testing in Shropshire, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus/rapid-testing-in-shropshire.
  • For women who reside in Wales and access Shropshire for maternity appointments or ultrasound scans, please contact your local COVID-19 testing centre for advice on lateral flow testing availability near you.

Please note, if you carry out a lateral flow test at home, you will need to formally report the results via www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result and follow the instructions provided.

Women and their chosen support partner are strongly encouraged to attend for a Lateral Flow Test no more than 72 hours prior to each antenatal appointment.

More information on asymptomatic lateral flow testing can be found here: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing/regular-rapid-coronavirus-tests-if-you-do-not-have-symptoms/

If you have any questions or concerns about your pregnancy, please contact your named Midwife, or speak to a member of the maternity services team at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. A list of numbers can be found on the back of your handheld pregnancy records.

You can find more information on pregnancy and coronavirus on the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/pregnancy-and-coronavirus/

Frequently Asked Questions

Who do we mean by 'support partner'? 

The support person may be the baby’s father or co-parent, but it does not need to be. What is important is that the support person is someone chosen by the woman to accompany her at different stages of her maternity journey. Support people are not ‘visitors’ because they carry out a support role.

A woman may opt to be accompanied by a different support person at different appointments. This is as long as the necessary safety measures set out in the guidance above are followed to ensure the safety of the pregnant woman, the support person, other hospital users and staff.

When should the pregnant woman and their support person take a COVID test?

The Government has announced that twice weekly rapid testing is available to everybody. Pregnant women and their support people are advised to take up this opportunity and undertake testing twice weekly during pregnancy because this will help make sure any COVID infection is picked up early and managed. In any case, women should take a COVID test, either self-administered or at a testing site, within 24 hours before an appointment.  If the woman wants a support partner to accompany her to the appointment, they should also self-administer a test within 24 hours before the appointment.

Is the test mandatory or voluntary?

Tests are voluntary, but women and their support partners are strongly encouraged to test to help keep the hospital safe for other women, their families and staff.

What happens if a woman declines the offer of a test?

Care will continue with appropriate IPC measures including use of PPE and social distancing.

What happens if a support person declines the offer of a test?

If the support person declines the test, access to accompany the woman to their antenatal appointment will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking mitigating factors, including safe social distancing and the use of PPE, into account.

What happens if the woman gets a positive result?

Where a woman tests positive for COVID-19 in advance of an antenatal appointment, they should contact SaTH maternity services on: 01952 565948 for further guidance.

What happens if a support person is self-isolating due to contact with someone who has tested positive?

Any person self-isolating due to contact with a person who has tested positive is still able to attend appointments relating to pregnancy and birth at the request of the mother, as long as they have a negative test result.

What happens if the support person gets a positive result?

The support person should isolate as set out in government guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stayat-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection. The woman can then select an alternative support person who has not tested positive to COVID-19.

If the support person gets a positive test result through a lateral flow test, a confirmatory PCR test will be required. At the point the confirmatory PCR test result is known, and this is positive, test results will, as normal, be referred to Test and Trace.

Antenatal appointments are important for the safety and wellbeing of the woman and her baby, so the woman should be advised to proceed with her appointment, although she may choose to rebook her appointment for another time so she can be accompanied by an alternative support person who has not tested positive for COVID-19.

Should women and their support partners continue testing after they've received the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, women and their support partners should continue to test even if they have had the vaccine.

Page last updated 21 April 2021