PREGNANT women will be allowed one person to support them at Colchester Hospital appointments after changes to restrictions.

The updated rules come after East Suffolk and North Essex Trust altered its visiting arrangements at its hospitals.

The new measures in maternity will be in place from today.

It will mean pregnant women can be accompanied at all scans by one support person, as well as at all antenatal and postnatal appointments.

Updated time restrictions will also now allow the sole support figure, ideally from the same household or bubble, to visit antenatal and postnatal wards for two hours, which has been extended from one hour.

The support person may also accompany someone in labour from the point of admission to the maternity unit – rather than from the point of established labour.

The trust’s chief nurse Giles Thorpe stated the move is a positive one.

He said: “We are very happy to be relaxing visiting restrictions in maternity services at our hospitals. We have made these changes as quickly and as safely as possible, in line with national guidance.

“We would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during what we know has been an extremely difficult time for expectant parents and their families.

“The health, safety and wellbeing of our patients, communities and staff remains our top priority. We will, therefore, keep these new arrangements under regular review, including close monitoring of local Coronavirus infection rates.

“This is a positive step forward for our families, which will allow us to continue offering the best possible care and support for people throughout their pregnancies.”

Other changes have also come into place in the emergency departments, children’s services and end of life care.

Updated guidance for attending these areas came into effect last Wednesday.

Due to the need to maintain social distancing no visitors are allowed to accompany patients in waiting rooms, unless the patient is a child, a vulnerable adult, or there are exceptional circumstances.

Up to four visitors will be able to visit patients receiving end of life care, where social distancing on the ward can be maintained.