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