Concern Over Air Transport For Pregnant Women

There is concern that pregnant women in Scilly may not be able to travel to the mainland by air following the withdrawal of the helicopter service in November.

This follows a post on Radio Scilly’s Facebook page by islands’ resident, Jodie Asten.

Currently, pregnant women can travel by helicopter to Penzance, and onward to Treliske Hospital, during the late stages of pregnancy.

But expectant mothers between 28 and 36 weeks need a doctor’s certificate to confirm they are fit to travel on Skybus, and women later than 36 weeks into pregnancy are not carried at all.

CAA guidelines say that air travel for pregnant women is safe for both mother and baby, but that the risk of delivery in-flight or the need to divert is high, hence the restriction of 36 weeks for a single pregnancy and 32 weeks for a multiple pregnancy.

However, the CAA adds that an airline can use some discretion in specific circumstances.

Yesterday, a Skybus spokesperson said that from 31st October, they’re hoping to amend the policy to enable them to carry women more than 36 weeks pregnant between St Mary’s and Land’s End.

They’re also planning to introduce a stretcher service, which will allow women who are more than 36 weeks pregnant and very near delivery date, to travel more comfortably.

This option will also allow for the passenger to be accompanied when they are transferred to the mainland.

Laura Mason from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust confirmed that they will be discussing this, and other issues caused by the withdrawal of the helicopter service such as the carriage of medical samples like blood, in the next few weeks.