The COVID-19 pandemic affected respect for women’s perinatal care rights. An atmosphere of fear has caused decision-makers in the health service to make many decisions emotionally, and medical centres have frequently introduced procedures for which there is no scientific basis or which are contrary to ministry guidelines. To address the hardship faced by pregnant and other women, restricted access to care, improper hospital practices, and collective violation of patient rights, measures to intervene in hospitals and advocacy measures with respect to policy-makers were taken.
49 interventions were performed in the project with respect to medical centres and there were nine systemic interventions and initiatives. The interventions were undertaken based on information from women and other people such as partners and medical personnel. 983 legal consultations were given, and help was given to 816 people through social media.
Care provided in hospitals, and on natal wards respect for patient rights and the Perinatal Care Organizational Standard, was monitored in Poland during the COVID-19 pandemic. 10 257 women who gave birth during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic took part in the survey, and also the experiences of 429 midwives, physicians, and management of medical centres were collected. A report was produced based on the findings, on Experiences of women and medical personnel in perinatal care during the COVID-19 pandemic, making recommendations to the Minister of Health and hospital management.
Due to interventions and advocacy measures, procedures were changed at a large number of medical centres – family birth was restored, the requirement to wear masks during births was lifted, and decision-making power was restored to mothers regarding care of the child in the event of infection. The requirement for a close person to have a test and the requirement to hold a vaccine certificate not required under the national gynaecology and obstetrics consultant guidelines have been abolished. The intervention procedure devised by the team is having long-term effects. Regular monitoring of obstetrics units, interventions with respect to clinics reported by women and medical personnel, involvement of the Patient Ombudsman to take action, and making public the interventions undertaken on social media raises the quality of perinatal care.