Online protest calls for end to visiting restrictions in maternity hospitals

Online protest calls for end to visiting restrictions in maternity hospitals

Holly Cairns with Siobhán O'Donohue, director Uplift, and Hazel Chu, Lord Mayor of Dublin, at an Uplift rally in December outside the Coombe Women's Hospital to protest at the maternity ban on partners. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

An online protest against visiting restrictions in maternity hospitals takes place today organised by advocacy group AIMS Ireland.

Maternity hospitals seeking to restrict footfall during the pandemic also excluded partners of pregnant women, with many only starting to ease restrictions last month. 

Women have expressed frustration, saying partners should not be considered the same as visitors.

The call from AIMS follows a snapshot poll through its  social media channels. It asked: "Would you be in favour of having partner support (in spite of the Covid risk), in antenatal, labour/birth and postnatal care settings following the usual (Covid-19) protocols?"

On Facebook, 341 responses were received with 332 agreeing, and nine against. On Twitter, 134 responses were received, with 93% in favour and 7% against.

Chair of AIMS Ireland Krysia Lynch said: “In the absence of leadership from the minister and the HSE, the only way forward is for more people to publicly draw attention to this crisis for birthing people in Ireland.”

She criticised a lack of transparency around the restrictions and said the “the short-term and long-term emotional, physical, and mental safety of pregnant people and their families” were not considered.

Cork South-West TD Holly Cairns welcomed the call, saying: “Different sectors have successfully lobbied the Government for consideration in the reopening of society, but expectant parents do not have the same voice, a virtual protest is one of the few options left to them.” 

Ms Cairns said parents face “a geographical lottery” due to the range of restrictions. 

She said: “I fully support AIMS Ireland's call for a virtual protest to ensure this important issue is prioritised in the political agenda.” 

Cork TD Seán Sherlock said families are frustrated by the lack of information, saying communication around restrictions is not consistent.

Limerick University Maternity Hospital resumed having partners at anomaly scans and limited neonatal visiting at the end of April, and Cork University Maternity Hospital now uses a visitor app to schedule limited visiting.

  • AIMS Ireland asks supporters to use the hashtag #WhoseNeedsAreBeingMet. 
  • They are planning limited in-person protests from May 11. 
  • Registration details at aimsireland.ie

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