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Update 22nd July 2021 - Temporary suspension of homebirth service

Due to significant pressures on our maternity services, we have taken the extremely difficult decision to temporarily suspend our homebirth service.

We would like to express our sadness with this decision and understand this will be disappointing to those who have chosen a home birth but your safety remains our priority. The maternity team are working tirelessly to minimise the impact on your pregnancy experience and this decision will be reviewed regularly.

We have made provisions at our stand-alone birth centre at Maidstone, where we would invite you to birth. Please contact Maidstone Birth Centre (01622 220160/1) or your community midwife to discuss your options. We also have home from home settings available at Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

Latest update 7 May 2021 - Visiting Policy (to continue after 19th July 2021 until further notice)

We are pleased to announce that our visitor policy for birth partners has been relaxed further so pregnant women can be supported throughout their pregnancy.

The changes mean your nominated birth partner is now able to leave Tunbridge Wells Hospital and return at a later time, or the following day, throughout all stages of labour as well as during your stay on the postnatal ward. Please note, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff, patients and visitors during the pandemic, once a birth partner has been chosen you cannot change who they are.

A wristband will be given to your birth partner when they arrive at the hospital to support you. The wristband proves the person has been with you previously. They must not remove it or give it to another person as they must show it to staff at the main entrance when they return to the hospital. Entry is also subject to a temperature check being carried out by staff on the door. All birth partners are expected to observe social distancing measures and wear a hospital supplied disposable surgical face mask at all times whilst in the hospital – unless they are exempt or there is a clinical reason for them not to wear a mask.

If you need to attend the antenatal ward or triage area, a midwife will clarify the visitor arrangements for your birth partner when you speak to them before your arrival.

If you are an inpatient on the antenatal ward and you are not in early labour or being induced, your birth partner can visit you between 4pm and 5pm daily.

We are delighted to be able to welcome partners back to all maternity scans and outpatient appointments at Tunbridge Wells Hospital as well as our birth centres in Maidstone and Crowborough.

Partners are required to have a lateral flow test within the last 24 hours before the appointment. A step-by-step guide on how to get hold of a lateral flow test kit, how to perform the test and how to register the results can be found online by visiting www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests.

Once your partner has registered their test result, please ensure they take a screen shot of it or show a confirmatory email as they will need to show this as proof of a negative test result when they attend your appointment. If you and your partner have already received an appointment for a test to be carried out at one of MTW’s Covid testing centres you are welcome to still attend the appointment if you wish.  If you have already received notification of your swab booking and wish to cancel please email mtw-tr.oandgultrasound@nhs.net to request a cancellation.  Please include your full name and the date of swab.

When you arrive for your appointment at the hospital’s or birth centre’s main entrance:

  • You and your partner will have your temperatures taken by a staff member
  • You will be asked to show the text / screenshot / email confirming that your partner is Covid-19 negative
  • You will both be required to wear a hospital supplied disposable surgical face mask or a visor  – unless you are medically exempt or there is a clinical reason for you not to wear a mask.
  • You will be asked to make your way to the waiting area where social distancing measures will be in place – please observe them. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, children are not allowed to attend your appointment with you and will not be permitted.

If your partner has tested positive then we expect them to follow national guidance and isolate at home.

While we encourage pregnant women to regularly carry out a lateral flow test during their pregnancy to help make sure any Covid-19 infection is picked up early and managed, you will still be able to attend your appointment if you do not carry out a test.

If you test positive ahead of your hospital or birth centre appointment, please let your midwife know and await advice on what to do next.

To help keep our staff, patients and visitors safe from the virus, social distancing measures have been introduced at some venues. To help reduce the number of people in the waiting room areas you and your partner may be asked to wait in your car until a midwife invites you in to the building. Please refrain from waiting outside entrance doors so other women and their partners can enter and exit the building safely.

Twice weekly rapid testing is now available to everybody. You and your birth partner are advised to take up this opportunity during your pregnancy. For details on obtaining Lateral Flow Test (LFT) kits or testing please visit –  https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

Please be aware that all pregnant women can now be considered for the Covid-19 vaccination. For more information, please speak to your GP, midwife or obstetrician.

We are currently working on plans in partnership with other NHS partners, to welcome birth partners to antenatal appointments in other settings such as GP surgeries and children’s centres. Details will be announced as soon as these are in place.

No children are permitted. Some community midwife appointments may be hosted in venues such as GP surgeries and Children’s Centres which operate their own visiting policies. Please clarify this with your community midwife beforehand to avoid disappointment or inconvenience.

The maternity service is grateful for your support and would like to thank you and your birth partner for observing the safety methods that have been in place during the pandemic to help keep patients, visitors and our staff safe from the virus.

Update 27 April 2021 - Visiting Policy

We are pleased to announce that our visitor policy for birth partners has been relaxed further so pregnant women can be supported throughout their pregnancy.

The changes mean your nominated birth partner is now able to leave Tunbridge Wells Hospital and return at a later time, or the following day, throughout all stages of labour as well as during your stay on the postnatal ward. Please note, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff, patients and visitors during the pandemic, once a birth partner has been chosen you cannot change who they are.

A wristband will be given to your birth partner when they arrive at the hospital to support you. The wristband proves the person has been with you previously. They must not remove it or give it to another person as they must show it to staff at the main entrance when they return to the hospital. Entry is also subject to a temperature check being carried out by staff on the door. All birth partners are expected to observe social distancing measures and wear a hospital supplied disposable surgical face mask at all times whilst in the hospital – unless they are exempt or there is a clinical reason for them not to wear a mask.

If you need to attend the antenatal ward or triage area, a midwife will clarify the visitor arrangements for your birth partner when you speak to them before your arrival.

If you are an inpatient on the antenatal ward and you are not in early labour or being induced,  your birth partner can visit you between 4pm and 5pm daily.

Birth partners can attend your 12 and 20 week scans at both Maidstone Hospital and Tunbridge Wells Hospital. If you are on the high risk pathway and having serial scans, you can bring your partner to the 39 week scan also. To help keep everyone safe, some safety measures have been introduced. Two days prior to your appointment you will receive an appointment inviting you and your birth partner to have a swab test. Details of where to attend will be sent via email and text. If you have not had an email or text, or your swab appointment is five days prior to your appointment, please email mtw-tr.oandgultrasound@nhs.net  Both of you must attend the swab test appointment together. Following your swab you should both isolate until your scan appointment. If you decide not to attend the swab appointment, it is with regret that your partner will not be able to attend the scan appointment as planned.

Twice weekly rapid testing is now available to everybody. You and your birth partner are advised to take up this opportunity during your pregnancy to help make sure any Covid-19 infection is picked up early and managed. Apart from scan appointments, you will also need to carry out a Covid-19 test 24 hours before attending any other appointment as you will be asked to provide proof of a negative test result before attending.  If you would like your birth partner to accompany you to your appointment, they also need to carry out a test 24 hours before your appointment. For details on obtaining Lateral Flow Test (LFT) kits or testing please visit –  https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

We are currently working on plans in partnership with other NHS partners, to welcome birth partners to antenatal appointments in other settings such as GP surgeries. Details will be announced as soon as these are in place.

Please be aware that all pregnant women can now be considered for the Covid-19 vaccination. For more information, please speak to your GP, midwife or obstetrician.

The maternity service is grateful for your support and would like to thank you and your birth partner for observing the safety methods that have been in place during the pandemic to help keep patients, visitors and our staff safe from the virus.

Update 25 March 2021- Partner attendance at 20 week ultrasound

We are pleased to announce that a nominated birth partner can now attend the 20 week ultrasound appointment at Maidstone Hospital or Tunbridge Wells Hospital.

Whilst we appreciate that pregnant people value the support from a partner, relative, friend or other person throughout their pregnancy, at the same time we also need to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, patients and visitors during the pandemic.  As a result the following safety measures have been introduced to help keep everyone safe:

  • You will receive an appointment inviting you and your birth partner to have a swab test two days prior to your 20 week ultrasound scan. Details of where to attend will be sent via email and text. If you have not had an email or text, or your swab appointment is five days prior to your appointment, please email mtw-tr.oandgultrasound@nhs.net
  • Both of you must attend the swab test appointment together.
  • Following your swab you should both isolate until your scan appointment.
  • If both of your swab results are Covid negative, then both you and your birth partner can attend your appointment.
  • If you and your birth partner swab positive you will be contacted by the team who will go through an individualised care plan with you.
  • Only one birth partner can be nominated. Once nominated you cannot change who they are.

We appreciate that some people may not want to be swabbed. If this is the case, or if you unable to attend your swab appointment for any reason, please contact the team who will go through an individualised care plan with you. Your birth partner will not be allowed to attend. The appointment will also be scheduled towards the end of the session list.

Attending your 20 week scan appointment

Appointments are made in advance and you will receive plenty notice of your appointment. We can only change appointments in exceptional circumstances.  If you feel this applies to you then please email – mtw-tr.oandgultrasound@nhs.net

When attending your appointment, please enter via the main hospital entrance. Remember to bring yours and your birth partner’s swab test results with you on the day as you may be asked to show them on arrival. Please note, at this current time we are unable to accommodate children during your visit.

On arrival:

  • You and your birth partner will have your temperature checked.
  • You and your birth partner will be supplied with a surgical face mask. We ask that you wear the mask throughout your appointment, removing only when exiting the building. If either you or your birth partner are exempt from wearing a face mask, a visor may be offered as an alternative.
  • If you or your birthing partner choose not to wear a surgical mask, please contact the team in advance of your appointment – mtw-tr.oandgultrasound@nhs.net

Update 02 February 2021- Home birth re-instated

We are delighted to announce that SECamb have informed us that they are now able to support our midwives with home births.  This means that if you are having your baby at home the ambulance service will be able to transfer you to a hospital in an emergency. We hope that this will give you the peace of mind when considering your birth place options.

It is with a heavy heart however that we have to report that Crowborough will remain closed for births for a little while longer. This is because we have had to transfer staff who would usually be working in the birth centre, to Tunbridge Wells Hospital to help support the staff there. In the meantime you might like to consider a home birth, visit Maidstone Birth Centre or consider our lovely home from home birth rooms at the hospital. Our aim is to give you that birth centre experience wherever you chose to be.

Maidstone Birth Centre service remains the same and will welcome families from across the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells area. If you would like to schedule a look around, please call 01622 220161 or talk to your community midwife.

If you have booked a home birth already, you should receive a phone call from one of the community midwives explaining that this option is once again open to you.

May I take this opportunity to say thank you to all those families who have posted many positive comments about the service and have been very considerate of the situation that we have found ourselves in of late.

Update 29 January 2021 - Visiting update for scans

“We have had to make the very difficult decision to continue to ask partners not to attend scan appointments/antenatal appointments due to the current COVID challenges. We have been working hard to reintroduce this, whilst ensuring the utmost safety of our patients and staff. We were hoping that a reintroduction of partners to one scan would start in January. However, due to the rapid and significant rise in Covid-19 cases in our local communities and within our hospitals, we have had to delay this further. We ask that you please continue to attend these appointments by yourself for now.

 

We are sorry that we have to continue to ask you to do this at such an important time for you and your family. We understand how upsetting it is but our overall aim is, and always has been, to continue to provide your care in a safe environment. We continue to support partner’s attendance during the whole duration of your labour and during your stay on the Postnatal Ward. We thank you, once again, for your continued understanding on this matter.”

Update 05 January 2021 Partners not attending scans and appointments

Please be assured that we are working hard to find a safe way to invite partners back into ultrasound scans and midwifery appointments. We are reviewing this position on a regular basis.

Update 31 December 2020 HOMEBIRTH and BIRTH CENTRE

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust work very closely with the South East Coast Ambulance Foundation Trust (SECAMB), and in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic and the increased demand for ambulance services we have been closely reviewing and monitoring ambulance response times, and the impact this may have on some of our services.  This provides us with insight into the safety of our out of hospital birthing choices.

In light of this, and the significant pressures on SECAMB’s services, we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend some of our out of hospital services until further notice.

Our services currently are as follows:

  • Home birth – suspended
  • Crowborough Birth Centre – suspended
  • Maidstone Birth centre – normal services but may be subject to change
  • Tunbridge Wells – normal services apply with low risk birthing options available

The birth centre at Maidstone will be available with private ambulance support during this difficult time.  However, please be aware that this may change and information will be regularly posted on our Facebook and website.

While we understand that this may be upsetting news, we are committed to maintaining safe standards of care and the safety of families in our care is paramount. We continue to monitor this situation extremely closely and will resume normal services across the board as soon as safe to do so.

Please continue to call:

  • Maternity Triage telephone line for support and advice on 01892 633500/ 633503. This service is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  Alternatively your community midwife will advise you accordingly
  • Maidstone Birth Centre on 01622 220160 for women booked to birth there.

We apologise for any disappointment this may cause and thank you for your understanding in this matter.

Update 16th November 2020 Seasonal Flu Vaccinations

As of Monday 16 November 2020, if you are attending a hospital appointment for either Ultrasound Scan or Antenatal Clinic, there will be the opportunity for you to receive the Flu and Whooping Cough vaccinations.

There will be an allocated Midwife in the clinic waiting area who will ask if you wish to be vaccinated. If you have not been approached, please wait until the Midwife is free and you will be offered the vaccinations.

Please understand that, due to social distancing and infection control measures, there may be a short wait. We hope to extend this service to other areas in the coming weeks, increasing your opportunity to be vaccinated.

Update 31st October 2020 Partners attending ultrasounds scans and appointments

Like all NHS Trusts, MTW has had to review and carry out risk assessments of all of its services, including the ultrasound services at both of our hospital sites to determine whether or not it is safe to allow partners to attend antenatal scan appointments.

Our Maternity service team carried out a risk assessment and an extensive review of both routine obstetric ultrasound services and also our Early Pregnancy and Acute Gynae scanning service to ensure they can be delivered safely. The team has met with a range of stakeholders, including our Maternity Voices Partnership representative, and also sought comments from a wide range of staff groups such as sonographers on both sites, as well as many of our senior midwives, consultants, and the screening coordinator midwife team. Conversations on social media as well as direct feedback from patients have been taken into consideration too.

Following the risk assessment and review, the team concluded that at this moment due to the size and layout of the shared waiting areas and scan rooms, and staff welfare it is not safe to invite a partner to attend routine scans.

The decision has not been taken lightly and we do not underestimate the impact of these restrictions for those who are expecting and their partners. These measures are in place for everyone’s safety and we are working hard to find a solution so partners can attend routine scans in the very near future.

We appreciate the need for support for those who may be receiving unexpected or difficult news. For those who find themselves in this situation our staff will encourage partners to attend. A dedicated quiet space has been specifically set up for this purpose.

If it is anticipated that there is a higher risk of an adverse outcome, partners will be able to attend at the beginning of these scans.

Exceptions have also been made for safeguarding reasons for those under the age of 18 and those with learning disabilities.

We continue to review our policy about partners accompanying those who are pregnant to routine antenatal scans and appointments. Once local prevalence of Covid has reduced and/or we have an effective vaccine we will be pleased to welcome partners to all appointments and scans.

For our visiting policy please go to the patients and visitors page.