Nearly 2,500 women have given birth alone since the start of October as hospitals flout Government guidance, a shocking new report has shown.
The Mail on Sunday is campaigning for all hospitals to allow partners to be present and end the trauma of women attending scans and labour alone.
NHS England has said all but one hospital trust allow partners to attend active births, which refers to the final stage of labour.
However, today’s study of more than 4,100 births over October and November in England and Wales has shown this is not happening on the ground.
Of the roughly half of hospital births that are not induced, seven per cent are being subjected to lone births. The majority were across all regions of England.
Even women whose partners are allowed to attend for a short time still face Covid restrictions for the majority of their time in hospital, the study by campaigners Pregnant Then Screwed found.
Charlotte Taylor-Philip, 32, moved from one London hospital to another while heavily pregnant with her daughter Emmeline (pictured together), simply because the second had a more lenient policy for partner visits
Meanwhile, nearly half of women who were induced in England without their partner present until the very end spent more than 24 hours alone in the maternity ward while in labour.
One in three spent more than 48 hours in maternity wards alone, banned from having their partners by their sides.
Charlotte Taylor-Philip, 32, moved from one London hospital to another while heavily pregnant with her daughter Emmeline, simply because the second had a more lenient policy for partner visits.
‘I didn’t want to end up having to beg to have my husband with me,’ she said.
She had spent the whole pregnancy, which had complications and was deemed ‘high risk’, attending scans alone – making covert recordings to be able to pass on accurate information to her husband, Abey.
Despite this, her hospital still only allowed visits during the day and her birth in late October mostly took place at night.
Abey, 30, stood for three hours in the cold outside the hospital, waiting for a moment he could be allowed in. ‘It was quite traumatic,’ she said.
‘I did a lot of my early labour completely alone in an empty hospital stairwell. It was a busy night shift and I saw the midwife maybe three times in those 14 hours.’ On October 31, Boris Johnson promised maternity wards would be prioritised for the 15-minute tests to use on partners as a way to allow them access into wards and scans.
The Prime Minister said: ‘No woman should go through labour alone.’ But more than a month later, Trusts have not rolled out the tests, while many have reimposed restrictions during the second wave.
NHS England has said all but one hospital trust allow partners to attend active births, which refers to the final stage of labour. However, today’s study has shown this is not happening on the ground (file image)
Pregnant Then Screwed founder Joeli Brearley said: ‘It is clear that too many women are still spending long periods of time on their own when they are in labour and far too many women are giving birth without their partner present. This is completely unacceptable.’
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for NHS England, said: ‘Guidance for maternity services makes clear women should have access to support from someone at appointments at all stages of their maternity journey, and we have asked all trusts to facilitate this as quickly as possible, with only one trust in England recently reporting not doing so.
‘At the same time, it is a priority to prevent and control Covid-19 infection and keep women and staff safe. Trusts need to overcome any barriers to this, including making use of new testing capacity from the Test And Trace programme.’
NHS England said its records show only Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust is not following guidance on partner visits.
l Anna Mikhailova was ‘highly commended’ last week in the British Journalism Awards for leading the team at her previous paper, the Daily Telegraph, which broke the story of Government scientist Professor Neil Ferguson breaching his own lockdown rules, ultimately forcing his resignation. Judges called it ‘one of the defining stories of the year’.