GPs who are more than 28 weeks pregnant should avoid direct patient contact, according to new official guidance.
The national advice to NHS employers and healthcare workers – which was issued days before the Government put the UK into lockdown mode – says that pregnant women in their third trimester, after 28 weeks’ gestation, and those at any stage of pregnancy with an underlying health condition, such as heart or lung disease, should:
- work from home where possible, avoid contact with anyone with symptoms of coronavirus, and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact.
The guidance says that ’employers should seek opportunities for these individuals to work flexibly in a different capacity, to avoid roles where they are working directly with patients’.
Pregnant women in their first or second trimester, that is under 28 weeks’ gestation, with no underlying health conditions, are advised that they:
- can continue to work but avoid, where possible, caring for patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection, through the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and risk assessment.
The guidance has been drafted by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives, and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, with input from the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Obstetric Anaesthetists’ Association and advice from the UK’s chief medical officers.
Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: ‘We are aware that the current uncertainty about the risks posed by coronavirus to pregnant women and their babies is causing substantial difficulties and confusion for women, their families and their employers.
‘Therefore, we very much welcome this further guidance for pregnant healthcare workers which we have developed with the UK Chief Medical Officers. This will enable women and their employers to more effectively plan their working patterns and continue to make a valuable contribution to the workplace until the start of their maternity leave.’
He added that as ‘the evidence base for this new virus is growing rapidly’ as and when ‘new information emerges’, the college will issue new advice.
‘As a precaution, we continue to urge pregnant women to follow government advice about social distancing, and to stay away from public places, and in particular avoid anyone who has symptoms suggestive of coronavirus,’ said Dr Morris.