In line with national NHS guidance and our ongoing commitment to keep pregnant women, their support partners and our staff as safe as possible, Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (which includes Bedford Hospital and the Luton and Dunstable Hospital) is encouraging all pregnant women and their support partners to use the rapid coronavirus (COVID) testing service (also known as Lateral Flow Testing) ahead of their 12wks and 20wks scan appointments.

This rapid testing is available at various centres across Bedfordshire and is managed by Bedford Borough, Luton Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils. These are all walk-in testing centres so no appointment is required.

We ask all women and support partners to be tested no more than 48hrs before their 12wks or 20wks scan appointment date, for e.g. if your appointment is on Thursday try to get your test no earlier than the Tuesday of that week.

These test results will not only help the Trust to manage any asymptomatic (people with no coronavirus symptoms) COVID positive patients in a controlled way but will also reduce the risk of the virus spreading in our hospitals.

Emma Hardwick, Director of Midwifery at Bedfordshire Hospitals said:

“We know some people who’ve contracted COVID can display no symptoms (known as being asymptomatic). But they can still pass the virus on to others. We welcome the local Councils’ introduction of this testing service as this will enable us to identify asymptomatic cases, which will reduce the spread of the virus in our hospitals.

“It is important to clarify that at this time the rapid testing service is voluntary, we will still see you for your appointments if you choose not to get a test. However, we do hope all women and their support partners will recognise the importance of reducing the chances of an outbreak within the maternity units and help us to make this process work so we can keep everyone in our care, and our staff, as safe as possible.”

Emma continues,

“We really hope everyone will support us on our journey back to a place where women can receive the support of their partner at all antenatal appointments and visits, especially on our post-natal wards. The Trust is working extremely hard to plan for further maternity visiting restrictions to be lifted in line with national guidance. This will be done as soon as it is safe to do so and we will update everyone when such plans have been finalised. Using this rapid testing service will definitely help us to progress smoothly on this journey in a timely manner, with women able to have the partner support they need in our hospitals throughout their entire pregnancy, labour and birth.”

Locations of the testing centres in Central Bedfordshire are:

  • Flitwick Leisure Centre
    Steppingley Road, Flitwick
    Bedfordshire, MK45 1TH

The testing centre at Flitwick is open 7 days a week, from 8am to 8pm. Parking is available at the centre.

  • The Dunstable Centre
    Court Drive, Dunstable
    Bedfordshire, LU5 4JD

The testing centre at Dunstable is open 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm.

Parking is available at the Grove Park car park, in front of Go Bowling, and will be free whilst it is being used as a testing site.

  • Saxon Pool and Leisure Centre in Biggleswade
    Saxon Drive
    Bedfordshire, SG18 8SU

The test centre at Biggleswade will operate on a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, from 8am to 8pm. Parking is available at the centre.

Please note a PCR testing centre (for those with symptoms) also operates from Saxon Pool and Leisure Centre in Biggleswade on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

FAQs

What is a Lateral Flow Test and how does it work?

A rapid test, also called a lateral flow test, is a test for people who do not have coronavirus symptoms. The lateral flow test is designed to detect the presence or absence of coronavirus by applying a swab or saliva sample to the device’s absorbent pad.

The test will involve you taking a swab of the back of your throat and inside of your nose. You will give the swab to trained staff at the test centre who will be able to process the results there.

The sample runs along the surface of the pad, showing at the end a visual positive or negative result dependant on the presence of the virus (similar to a pregnancy test).

It takes less than 15 minutes to self-administer the test, they do not require a laboratory and you will get your result within 30-45 minutes by text or email.

What should I do with my test results?

When attending either Bedford Hospital or the Luton and Dunstable (L&D) Hospital for your 12wks or 20wks scan appointment, please show the email or text message with yours and your support partner’s test results to the member of maternity staff at the reception desk.

What happens if my lateral flow test is positive but my support partner’s is negative?

If your support partner has been in contact with you within the last 48hrs then they will not be able to attend the maternity unit, even if their own test is negative. They will be legally required to self-isolate for 10 days.

However, even though you’ve tested positive for coronavirus, it’s really important that we still see you so that we can care for you and your baby. We will make necessary amendments to ensure the safety of you, your baby and our staff is maintained at all times.

My support partner has tested positive

If your support partner tests positive then they will not be able to accompany you at this time and must self-isolate at home, in line with national guidance. We still need to see you and will try to re-arrange for when your support partner is able to attend with you but this may not always be possible to re-arrange.

What do I do if I’ve had a positive coronavirus test in the last 90 days?

If you’ve had a positive PCR test (so not a lateral flow test but a laboratory confirmed test) result in the last 90 days (not including the last 10 days in which you would be required to self-isolate), and you have no symptoms, then you will not need to be tested. This is because an infection can continue to show as a positive result for up to 90 days afterwards without you being infectious.

What are the current maternity restrictions in place at Bedfordshire Hospitals?

A reminder of the current maternity visiting guidelines in place at Bedfordshire Hospitals are:

  • One support partner can accompany women to their 12wks and 20wks scan appointments
  • One support partner can accompany women throughout all stages of labour once on delivery suite
  • One support partner can accompany women in theatre for all planned and emergency C-Sections
  • When attending appointments and labour, partners are respectfully asked to:
    • Wait outside of the antenatal clinic until their partner is called into the scan room for their appointment
    • Maintain a 2 metre distance from staff
    • Wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth at all times – partners may be asked to leave the hospital building if they are not medically exempt and refuse to wear a face mask

I have concerns about my pregnancy, where can I find out more information?

If you have any concerns about your pregnancy, please contact your named Midwife or call to speak to a member of the maternity team at Bedford Hospital on 01234 795805 or 01582 502285 for the L&D Hospital.

 

You can find more information on pregnancy and coronavirus on the NHS website:

www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/pregnancy-and-coronavirus/