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Partners’ access to scans and birth is a postcode lottery, data show

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 05 October 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m3876

Linked Opinion

Birth partners are not a luxury

  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

Trusts must be more responsive to the needs of pregnant women and their partners, researchers have said, after finding that they have been slow to lift bans imposed on attending scans and births, creating a postcode lottery on access.

Most trusts in England banned partners attending antenatal scans during the first peak of covid-19 in March and most still had restrictions in place in August, show findings from freedom of information (FOI) requests from public health academics at the University of Cambridge (box 1). But the extent of these restrictions varied significantly.

Box 1

Restrictions on access to maternity services

  • Nine out 10 (73, 90%) trusts prohibited partners attending the 12 week antenatal scans during the first peak of the virus, and 71 trusts (88%) had the same policy in place for attending the 20 week scan

  • At the end of August, only 20 trusts (25%) said they had lifted restrictions for 12 week scans, and 31 (38%) had done so for 20 week scans

  • Most trusts (77, 95%) restricted partner attendance at non-routine services—such as assessment for reduced fetal movements—during the …

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