asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will investigate the decision of the Sefton area health authority to ban children from visiting their mothers in the maternity unit at Fazakerly hospital, and instruct the area health authority on national policy.
pursuant to his reply, 8 February 1980]: Although the Department's guidance suggests that children should be allowed to visit their parents in hospital regularly and frequently, visiting arrangements are ultimately for health authorities to decide in the light of local circumstances; maternity units present particular difficulty because of the risk of cross-infection for new-born babies. After a period with a liberal visiting policy, Sefton area health authority found it necessary to impose restrictions because staff in the maternity unit had experienced considerable difficulty in controlling and supervising visiting children and had been subject to obstruction from accompanying adults in attempting to do so. Child visitors have now been banned from postnatal wards and are allowed on antenatal wards only during a half-hour period on Sunday mornings. Ward staff have discretion to relax these restrictions where, for example, a patient is in the unit for a longer than average time. At the invitation of the area health authority, the community health council has agreed to monitor the new arrangements and to report on them.