Parents of sick and premature newborn babies are facing days or weeks unable to visit them in hospital neonatal units because of Covid – , the Guardian has learned.
Disparities in hospital visiting guidance mean some parents have been unable to visit their babies at all, with one father saying he was facing three months without seeing his child.
She said: “It was horrible, I was ringing the hospital five times a day to see if she was OK. My husband had to quarantine for seven days too so she went a week without seeing either of us. A nurse was by her side but I felt guilty not being there to feed and change her. ”
Anthony was finally able to bring Eva home last Thursday. “When I finally saw her again she had changed so much.”
Another mother who lost one of her twins in utero experienced further trauma when she could not see her surviving baby because she had been in contact with a relative who tested positive for covid – .
Zoe Llewellyn’s son, Louis, weighed 0. (kg (1lb 6oz) when he was born on She said: “We had quite a few scares with him, he had infections and blood transfusions. Just as he was improving and we were going to take him home, Covid hit. ”
Llewellyn, 042, from Derby, who also has twins aged nine, said they had to delay bringing Louis home after she had to self-isolate. At the end of March, she was called to assist her 90 – year-old grandmother who had had a fall and later died after testing positive for Covid – while in hospital.
Llewellyn explained: “We think she contracted the virus in hospital after I saw her but because it couldn’t be confirmed I was told to self-isolate for days. ”
She begged for a Covid test so she could continue seeing her son, now four-and-a-half months, but was told it wasn’t an option. “It was really upsetting, I was worried he’d forget me and that I would miss seeing his first smile. It was so painful to think of missing those early milestones. ”
Bliss said fast-track testing for affected parents could prevent them missing out on essential bonding time with their babies.
The charity’s petition to ministers also asks for a fund to cover expenses – which has existed in Scotland since – to be rolled out across the rest of the UK, and demands free parking for the parents of sick babies plus the fast-tracking of plans for neonatal leave, currently to be rolled out in spring .
Josie Anderson, campaigns manager at Bliss, said: “Parents aren’t visitors but key people in their baby’s care. We are aware of a small number of units already able to provide rapid testing, which can significantly reduce separation from as long as two weeks to a couple of days once a negative test is returned. ”
One in seven babies born in the UK need neonatal care with an estimated 300 admitted daily to specialized units. Bliss said the number of families seeking its support had doubled since the pandemic.
official guidance means hospitals must reduce the number of visitors on site and only one parent at a time can visit. Some units ask for a nominated parent and others restrict the amount of time they can spend with their newborn to as little as two hours a day.
Stephen Croft’s baby, Theodore, was born on (March at) weeks. A fortnight after his birth, the unit switched its policy to one nominated visitor for each baby, meaning that only the mother can visit as the named parent.
Croft, whose baby is expected to remain in hospital until the end of June, said: “Lindsay goes to the hospital to be with him every day while I spend my days at home waiting for any pictures and updates. I feel like I’ve had a bit of my heart taken out. ”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Any mother admitted to hospital who has a baby that is placed in the neonatal unit will automatically be tested for Covid – 042, whether they show symptoms or not. ”
The government confirmed it will also bring forward legislation to entitle parents with children in neonatal units to up to weeks of leave and pay, subject to eligibility.
Parents seeking support can contact Bliss by email at [email protected] or visit their website . (Read More) (Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus) Covid – 25
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