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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

What happens to keep pregnant women safe, asks AM

North Wales Assembly Member Mark Isherwood, who has three daughters who are currently pregnant, yesterday questioned the First Minister over what provision is being made to ensure that all pregnant women are safe when they go into hospital to give birth amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The First Minister was answering on the Health Minister’s behalf.

Mr Isherwood raised this and a series of other health concerns, including those from parents with children with underlying health conditions, when responding to the Health Minister’s Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Speaking in the Welsh Parliament, he said: “Firstly, on behalf of some parents who are self-isolating because their children have underlying conditions, they've said, 'Although we've been told by the Chief Medical Officer that children are relatively spared, what advice would you give to parents of children with underlying health conditions under the current circumstances?

“The second issue, on behalf of pregnant women - clearly, they've been told to stay at home. That includes my daughters, three of them, currently pregnant. What provision is being made for the moment that the birth starts happening? We've got one due in 10 days. What assurances do my daughters and the thousands of other women in the same position have that, when they go into labour, they're going to be safe when they go into hospital?”

He added: “I was contacted by constituents in Flintshire, 70-plus-year-olds, 'My wife and I can't register with the Pharmacy to have our repeat prescriptions delivered seamlessly from GP to pharmacy like they can in England under the Electronic Prescription Service, because it's not available in Wales. Something needs to be done about this quickly’, as people who are over 70 are presumably going to be required to self-isolate.

“In terms of prescriptions overseas, another one of my daughters has an underlying condition. She is currently on lockdown in Spain, but she is one of thousands of others. What provision is being made to ensure that those people, like her, who need repeat prescriptions can access them?

“A couple more questions put to me by constituents today: 'How is the Welsh Government prioritising testing for NHS staff, not just symptomatic healthcare workers in isolation, so that they can know whether they can go to work with a clear conscience?' That was the parent of two healthcare workers who've got coughs and are at home, but don't know if they're actually able to go in and help at work.

“A local Councillor who contacted me today said they were reliably informed that Emergency Staff were not getting the right Personal Protection Equipment to deal with the virus. Again, I wonder if you provide a response for that local Councillor?”

Answering on the Health Minister’s behalf, First Minister, Mark Drakeford AM, said: “ y understanding is that the advice for pupils who have underlying health conditions is quite clear: they should stay at home.

“Services for women in pregnancy: as I understand it, the advice to them is that they should self-isolate, but when they have appointments with the health service, they should keep them. They shouldn't not carry on with the care that they would normally expect to have during pregnancy. They should attend those appointments, they should make sure that they are as well prepared for those events as they can be, but outside that they should have as much social distancing as they can manage. 

“On pharmacies, I don't, I'm afraid, have answers on either of those points, but I will try and get an answer, particularly on the overseas issue.

“The testing issue, the information I have is that, while there are some inevitable local glitches in the distribution of personal protective equipment, the system is working, it is happening, and where there are some difficulties, they are genuinely local in character."

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