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From today (Monday 13th July), women across the Western Isles will be invited to identify one designated person to accompany them to scans, antenatal appointments and postnatal appointments.

Unfortunately at this time, NHS Western Isles unable to allow children to accompany the woman and designated person to the hospital, which is in line with Scottish Government guidance.

Following on from yesterday’s announcement on visiting in hospitals, NHS Western Isles is also now allowing one designated visitor (in addition to the birth partner/essential visitor) to visit women in the Maternity Ward. Unfortunately at this time, we are unable to allow children to visit until further notice.

Visiting slots for the designated visitor will be provided by ward staff to the mother-to-be, and will be for 30 minutes at a time, until further notice. Visitors will be met by a member of staff from the Maternity Ward at the door, where they will be asked a few questions about their general health (wellness check) and will be asked to use hand sanitizer and to put on a mask.

There are no restrictions on how often birth partners can visit and, if physical distancing permits, there is no restriction on the period of time that they can visit.

In terms of the birth itself, the updated position from today is that, in addition to the birth partner, women who choose to can also now have one additional person attending the birth.

NHS Western Isles Head of Midwifery, Catherine Macdonald, said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of pregnant women and their babies and the staff providing maternity care remains our absolute priority. We are delighted to be able to ease some of the restrictions in place and to allow, in particular, women to be accompanied to scans and appointments, but we would ask that anyone who feels unwell, has been in contact with anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, or has had any symptoms of COVID-19 themselves, does not attend the hospital.”

The use of digital technology and home monitoring to supplement routine care in maternity services will continue.

NHS Western Isles will not be resuming parenting classes until further notice, but will continue with the Solihull Education programme as has been the case since the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect.