HOSPITALS in Bournemouth and Poole have announced a change in visiting hours for families on postnatal wards.

This comes after a Dorset mother raised concerns that having only one visiting hour a day is causing trauma to families in the area.

The charity ‘Birthrights’ and campaign group ‘But Not Maternity’ wrote a letter to UHD as one of only three trusts in the UK currently still restricting postnatal visiting to one hour a day.

The letter asked UHD to consider reviewing their visiting restrictions in maternity services as a matter of urgency.

Mother Isabella Gamble experienced first hand the effects of her partner only being able to visit for one hour a day after she gave birth.

She said: “My son Charlie was born on 13 September 2021 at Poole hospital when visiting was restricted to one hour a day.

"My husband had to leave when I was moved to the postnatal ward, five hours after my son was born via emergency c-section. I was still unable to move post surgery.

"At one point when my baby was about six hours old, he was crying in his bassinet and I could not yet move to pick him up, I rang my bell for help, but nobody came.

"I was later told they were short staffed and my bell may not be working, as they sometimes run out of charge. This wouldn’t of happened if I had my partner with me.

"It was really traumatic for me to listen to my newborn baby cry and not be able to hold him.

"Once I was cuddling him, I didn’t want to put him back down incase I couldn’t hold him again, which meant I couldn’t rest at all.

"My physical and mental health suffered because of majorly restricted visiting during my time on the postnatal ward and I am still experiencing PTSD symptoms as a result of this."

Appealing to staff at UHD, Ms Gamble said: “I totally understand the huge pressures the NHS are currently facing but this policy is causing trauma to families across Dorset and needs to be reviewed asap.”

Following this, Lorraine Tonge, director of midwifery at UHD, released a statement updating the community on UHD’s new visiting guidance: “Throughout the pandemic we had to make difficult decisions to ensure the safety of our patients and staff and visitors.

"In maternity, birthing partners have consistently been allowed to attend our hospital and essential visitors, such as carers, have been able to attend appointments, but we know that the extra restrictions have been a cause for concern.

“In line with national guidance, we’re really pleased to expand our visiting, taking into account the additional needs of birthing parents, un-born and new-born babies, and the environments we are providing maternity care in.

"On our antenatal ward, postnatal wards and transitional care unit, we are now operating open visiting hours from 10am-9pm for one adult partner or visitor at any one time.

“When coming in to visit, or for an appointment, we ask that patients and partners show negative lateral flow test results taken on the day of the appointment, unless results are available from within the previous 24 hours, and these should be logged on the government portal.

“We really value the continued support of our patients and their families and will continue to work with you to ensure your experience of pregnancy and birth is as positive as possible.”

Hearing the news that UHD is increasing their opening hours, Ms Gamble said: “I’m really pleased to hear UHD have now reviewed this policy meaning mothers and newborns can now have somebody by their side to help them feel safe and supported, enable rest and recovery and allow essential bonding time for fathers and partners.

"Partners aren’t just ‘visitors’, their presence and support is essential to the wellbeing of mothers and newborn babies.”