NHS England has released updated guidance on supporting people using maternity services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This replaces the document published in October and further aims to facilitate the safe return of a support person to all antenatal and postnatal care settings.
The aim of the new document is to provide women with ‘access to support at all times during their maternity journey... Trusts should facilitate this, while keeping the risk of transmission of the virus within NHS maternity services (including to pregnant people, other service users and staff) as low as possible’.
The document highlights the challenges in some Trusts but states that ‘it is important that trusts should find creative solutions to overcome them while ensuring the safety of their staff and that they can access support and advice to do so’.
The SoR is supportive of people being accompanied to all medical examinations, however we recognise there are significant challenges as a result of the pandemic in enabling this to be universally implemented, with significant challenges being faced by some services.
Ultrasound scans are highly complex clinical examinations and an essential component in the maternity pathway. While the SoR is keen to support the principles of the guideline whereby people can be accompanied for their scans, this must only happen if the safety of the patient and sonographer is not compromised.
The document states that all services must make every reasonable adjustment to comply. The SoR cannot support this principle if there remains a risk to the safety of the patient, staff and other service users.
Risk assessments must be carried out. Any identified risks must be addressed in consultation with sonographers and infection prevention and control teams. The SoR has suggested solutions for some common problems identified in risks assessments around this issue (visit: https://covid19.sor.org/diagnostic-radiography-faqs/ultrasound/). There are also particular areas of concern which must be addressed (see below).
The SoR will continue to support members in ensuring they are able to deliver safe services for patients and staff. If the recommendations from the risk assessment cannot be implemented safely within a service, we will support our members in raising concerns.
Members or Representatives who continue to face challenges should contact the SoR for support and advice directly by emailing [email protected].
To download the guidance, click here: Supporting pregnant women using maternity services during the coronavirus pandemic: Actions for NHS providers.
The particular areas of concern which must be addressed are:
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