A woman has told of the moment she learned she had lost her unborn baby – alone – as MPs called for hospitals to lift rules banning partners imposed because of the pandemic.
Caty Wiles, 25, said it was the ‘worst day of her life’ when midwives told her she had miscarried. But it was made more ‘horrible’ because her partner, Pete Mckenzie, 36, could not attend the ultrasound appointment due to coronavirus restrictions.
Instead she had to tell Mr Mckenzie the awful news over the phone. He was forced to wait outside the hospital for five hours while paperwork was completed.
Yesterday Miss Wiles, from Hull, joined calls for NHS hospitals to lift restrictions forbidding partners from attending ‘life-changing’ maternity appointments – and being there during labour. Health Secretary Matt Hancock last month urged NHS chiefs to allow partners at scans and births, but some Trusts have refused to follow Government advice.
More than 60 MPs have written to the Trusts, demanding a loosening of the restrictions.
Caty Wiles, 25, and partner Pete Mckenzie, 36. Miss Wiles, from Hull, joined calls for NHS hospitals to lift restrictions forbidding partners from attending ‘life-changing’ maternity appointments – and being there during labour
Miss Wiles, who was eight weeks pregnant when she lost her baby, said: ‘It was awful and I was in deep disbelief. It was one of the worst days of my life. I just lay there in the bed on my own crying.
‘I can completely understand why the restrictions are in place and I accept a hospital environment is different to a pub or bar.
‘But these appointments can be very stressful and nerve-racking at the best of times. When you receive bad news like I did, it’s horrible being on your own.
‘I just think you need someone else there with you to help process everything. Afterwards I’d forgotten much of what I’d been told because I was in shock.’
The miscarriage was the second suffered by the couple, who both work as customer service advisors in a call centre and live in Hull.
Miss Wiles added: ‘The situation was also incredibly difficult for Pete who had to wait outside in the communal garden. I was in there for five hours. There was so much paperwork and they put together a memory box.
‘He had all that time just trying to process it all on his own. It was really tough when I went out to meet him.’
The MPs’ letter was organised by pregnant Tory MP Alicia Kearns, who said it was ‘utterly heart-breaking’ that women were being denied their partner’s support.
It says: ‘We are failing women if restrictive support policies in pregnancy are allowed to continue one moment longer than they need to. Since the national lockdown was lifted, vast numbers of pregnant women have continued to sit alone in hospital rooms, without their partner or a family member as they hear life-changing news.
‘Their partners have been locked out of scans and hospital rooms, anxiously separated from the people they love most in the world with no idea whether the outcome would be as they hoped, or as they desperately feared.’
Yesterday Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said it was ‘vital’ trusts heed Government advice.
Guidelines on how hospitals can allow partners to attend labour and key appointments such as scans were published by the Department of Health and Social Care last week.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock last month urged NHS chiefs to allow partners at scans and births, but some Trusts have refused to follow Government advice
Quizzed on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Buckland said: ‘All of us who have been through that process with our husbands, wives and partners know how vital it is to have that emotional support when pretty big life events happen and can often happen so suddenly and without warning.
‘It’s vital that all local hospital Trusts and health bodies who have the responsibility for administering the rules in their particular area really lean into this issue.
‘I know a lot of Trusts already have opened up their rules to allow partners and families to be with people who are going through this, I think that is absolutely right.
‘I know there are some who have yet to do that and I think my colleague, Nadine Dorries, the Health Minister, has eloquently made the case for more consistency when it comes to those decisions.
‘I would like to see more Trusts to get that balance right particularly when difficult and tough news has to be delivered and emotional support is absolutely vital.’
In one case, a woman was left traumatised after giving birth to a stillborn baby at 41 weeks without her partner present.
Another woman, Ruth Watson, whose husband has not been allowed to attend her upcoming 36-week scan after doctors suspected complications, said: ‘Women are almost being treated as though we don’t matter.’
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Royal College of Anaesthetists all say women should be allowed ‘one birth partner’ by their side during labour in most cases.