Visitor restrictions remain in place at National Maternity Hospital and Coombe

Partners of pregnant women in these hospitals not permitted to attend certain scans

Visitor restrictions for important pregnancy scans remain in place at the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) and the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, despite another Dublin maternity hospital permitting attendance.

For the past month, partners of expectant mothers attending the Rotunda hospital have been permitted to attend the 20 week anomaly scan. The scan is considered important as it is the first point at which foetal abnormalities or defects can usually be seen.

However, partners of pregnant women in the NMH and the Coombe are not permitted to attend these scans, due to restrictions introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

At the NMH, partners can attend labour and birth, can visit mothers after birth for two-hour periods, and “in adverse situations” can attend outpatient appointments or scans.


A spokesman for the hospital said they are “very aware” that the restrictions is “adding to the distress of people in very difficult and sometimes tragic circumstances”.

“Hospitals must unfortunately impose these restrictions, to ensure we have specialist staff to treat our patients, and to ensure the safety of patients themselves.”

A spokeswoman for the Coombe said the restrictions were implemented for “several reasons”, particularly for limiting the spread of the virus.

“But there are also very practical reasons, for instance we have infrastructural constraints in our buildings, particularly in the rooms where we carry out our scans and see women for their outpatient appointments,” the spokeswoman said.

“ We must also protect our staff to ensure we have the appropriate numbers available to continue our outpatient and ultrasound services.”

Fergal Malone, master of the Rotunda, said visitation is feasible in his hospital due to the layout of the building.

"We have managed to construct our foetal assessment unit, where anomaly scans are done, in a separate part of the hospital from the general outpatients service. There tends not to be quite as many numbers of patients and visitors around," he told RTÉ Radio One's News at One.

“Unfortunately not all hospitals have the same facilities so this is going to have to be something that is individualised.”

Meanwhile, a new HSE report states that maternity hospitals will continue to manage restrictions at a local level and every maternity service will be asked to review their visitor arrangements on a weekly basis.

The clinical director of the women’s and infants’ programme with the HSE Peter McKenna said the HSE will examine if it is “possible to have a telelink with a partner via a smartphone or camera. Although the partner may not be physically in the room it can be pointed out ‘this is what we are looking at here, this looks good, etc’.”

“It is something which I think is certainly worth exploring and we will see if it is something which can be piloted.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times