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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Quarter of births now caesarean

26 September, 2008  

A nursing body has expressed concern over the “worryingly high” number of caesarean sections performed in England’s NHS hospitals, after figures showed they accounted for almost a quarter of all births between 2006 and 2007.

There were 145,051 caesarean sections in English NHS hospitals between April 2006 and March 2007, making up 24.3% of all births. More than half of these were emergency caesareans, according to the NHS Information Centre report.

The figures mark a 0.2% increase on the previous year’s total.

Cathy Warwick, general secretary designate of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “There is clear evidence that some caesarean sections are unnecessary and put women and babies at risk.

“Coupled with this the birth-rate is rising sharply, and midwife numbers are failing to keep pace, leaving them little time antenatally to discuss the birth and the available options with women.”

She added: “We believe that caesarean section rates can be lower when midwives have time to counsel and advise women about their choices and the risks involved and when one-to-one care in labour is possible.

“More midwives will mean better quality of care, a better birth experience and I hope, more normal births for women.”

A Department of Health spokesman defended the statistics, saying the government’s Maternity Matters strategy to improve the maternity service has led to a drop rate of increase compared with the 1990s.

Copyright PA Business 2008

Royal College of Midwives