New parents barred from being by sick babies’ sides on hospital wards because of coronavirus rules


New parents are barred from being by their sick babies’ sides on hospital wards because of strict coronavirus rules

  • Many told they can only spend two hours daily on neo-natal wards with babies 
  • Parents of ill newborns who later died said precious time by their side cut short
  • One in seven parents not able to see child at all in hospital hitting mental health

Parents of sick, newborn babies are being prevented from seeing their children on hospital wards because of strict coronavirus rules.

Many are being told they can spend only two hours a day on neo-natal wards while their tiny babies fight for life – and some hospitals are limiting daily visits to just one parent, a survey by premature baby charity Bliss has found.

In some cases, parents of seriously ill newborns who later died have reported that the social distancing rules drawn up by hospitals meant the precious time they had by their babies’ sides was cut cruelly short.

Parents of sick, newborn babies are being prevented from seeing their children on hospital wards because of strict coronavirus rules (stock image used) 

The charity found one in seven parents had not been able to see their child at all in hospital and the restrictions were hitting their mental health.

Carly Maclean, 30, and her partner Gary Hanson were told only one parent a day could be with their daughter Emily, who had jaundice and needed oxygen, at Royal Bolton Hospital in March.

She said: ‘When you’re peering at your poorly baby, the only thing that can help is the gentle comfort of your partner and the knowledge you’re not alone. Covid took that away.

‘And when I brought Emily home after nine days, it felt like someone else’s child because the restrictions stopped that bond. It destroys a part of you.’

First-time mother Katie Orger, 33, from Hertfordshire, was told by The Rosie Hospital in Cambridge she had to ‘book a slot’ to visit her daughter, Sophia, who was born five weeks prematurely in April. 

And only one parent was allowed to attend the unit. 

‘I never managed to breastfeed and I can only put that down to not having the skin-to-skin and lasting contact with my daughter,’ she said.

The Mail on Sunday is already campaigning to end the scandal of lone births which leaves women at many NHS trusts without support during labour or antenatal appointments

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has backed the campaign and said ‘no woman should go through labour alone’, but some trusts have refused to adhere to official guidance on the issue. 

While this is a separate problem, its roots are similar.

Normally, parents are allowed 24-hour access on special care baby units. 

The charity found one in seven parents had not been able to see their child at all in hospital and the restrictions were hitting their mental health (stock image used)

The charity found one in seven parents had not been able to see their child at all in hospital and the restrictions were hitting their mental health (stock image used) 

But to prevent the spread of Covid-19, trusts have introduced restrictions on ‘visitors’ which has been widely accepted.

But guidance from national bodies, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, is clear that parents of sick children should not be considered ‘visitors’.

And neonatal staff have also lobbied hospitals to make an exception to the pandemic rules.

While some have, others have failed to do so.

Bliss is calling on NHS England to introduce a national framework guaranteeing parents access to neonatal units ‘as a matter of urgency’.

Its chief executive, Caroline Lee-Davey, said: ‘Our smallest and sickest babies need their parents at their side to give them the best chance of survival, even during a pandemic.’

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