NHS lets only one in three women have a partner by her side for support during childbirth
Only one woman in three was allowed a partner at her side for support during childbirth last year, according to shocking new figures.
The Care Quality Commission's annual maternity survey lifts the lid on the scale of restrictions imposed on pregnant women during the pandemic for the first time.
It showed only 34 per cent of women questioned last summer said they had been allowed full partner support in childbirth in the first two months of 2021.
The survey – which was not conducted in 2020 because of Covid – covers January and February births to provide a snapshot. By comparison, 74 per cent of women were allowed a partner for support in 2019.
Last spring, all NHS trusts moved to scrap restrictions for partners. Official guidance makes it clear hospital trusts should find 'creative solutions' to ensure women had support at 'all stages' of pregnancy and labour.
Despite this, at the end of last year, some hospitals used fears over the Omicron variant to bring back restrictions. But after MPs raised concerns, it is understood NHS England reissued its guidance to trusts.
The CQC survey, which received responses from 23,479 women, found the pandemic also led to a reduction in women's ability to choose where to give birth – in particular, mothers-to-be in some areas were unable to opt for a home birth.
There was also a slight decrease in the proportion saying they were always treated with respect, down from 89 to 85 per cent.