PREGNANT women are now facing new restrictions at Whiston Hospital due to the significant increase in coronavirus infection rates across the area.

Restrictions were put in place at the start of the pandemic, leaving pregnant women to attend all appointments and scans without a birth partner.

Similar restrictions were in force across the country, leading to an outcry that some women in England were being forced to hear devastating news at appointments without the support of their birth partners.

Last month, as the figures improved in the area and due to all hospital trusts being ordered by the NHS to review their coronavirus rules, it was determined that pregnant women could have one person with them at all appointments and during labour.

This came into place from Monday, December 21.

However, in light of the rising Covid-19 cases, which has resulted with St Helens and Knowsley having some of the highest weekly rates in the country, the trust has now decided to restrict access to maternity services again.

The latest restrictions, which came into place yesterday, Monday, January 11, state that:

One nominated birth partner may attend with mum for:

-12 week scan

-20 week scan

-fetal medicine scans and appointments

- Induction from 9am - 9pm and they must remain on the ward at all times and if they need to leave the ward they cannot return until the next day. No overnight stays are permitted.

- During active labour - They must stay within the delivery room at all times and will not be able to accompany mum to the ward following birth.

For any other appointments, pregnant women are asked to attend appointments alone unless in exceptional circumstances.

No visitors are allows except in exceptional circumstances.

Commenting on the change, a spokesperson for the hospital trust said: "We have taken the difficult decision to increase restrictions within some maternity services.

"These are not decisions we take lightly, but we must put the safety of all of our mums, babies and our staff first.

"Whiston Maternity Unit is within a busy acute hospital treating some of the most vulnerable patients, and we must reduce the number of people in and around the hospital as much as possible.

"These restrictions are reviewed regularly and any further changes will be communicated."