Limit on Offering Caesarean Births Dropped by NHS England

Birth Injury to Mother Compensation
LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel
Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) Nimish Patel In: Medical Negligence

In England and Wales, hospitals will no longer encourage ‘natural births’ over ‘caesarean births’ under plans to improve care for both mothers and babies.

There have been a number of concerns targets have led to women pursuing natural births when a C-section would have been more appropriate, jeopardising their safety.

A letter sent to maternity units by Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, NHS England’s chief midwife, has instructed maternity units to ‘stop using total caesarean section rates as a means of performance management.

It added: ‘We are concerned by the potential for services to pursue targets that may be clinically inappropriate and unsafe in individual cases’.

In July 2021, a committee of MPS said, A “culture of blame” was preventing staff from admitting mistakes and lessons being learned

Jeremy Hunt, who chairs the Health and Social Care Committee, said 1,000 more babies a year would survive if England’s maternity services were as safe as Sweden’s.

The committee’s report found although maternity safety had improved, the deaths of a number of newborn babies at several hospitals in recent years were a reminder much more needed to be done.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust is currently being investigated for nearly 2,000 maternity incidents.

Dr Jo Mountfield, vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, welcomed plans to abandon the targets.

She said: ‘These targets are not appropriate in individual circumstances. Both vaginal and caesarean births carry certain benefits and risks, which should be discussed with women as they choose how they wish to give birth.’

What is a Caesarean Section?

A caesarean section that is more commonly known as a C- section, is an operation to deliver a baby through a cut made in the womb. Normally the cut is made just above the bikini line. Currently, only 1 in 4 pregnant women in the UK have a caesarean birth.

Once the baby is delivered, the patient will receive an injection of the hormone oxytocin, which encourages the womb to contract, reducing the amount of blood they may lose.

The womb and stomach should be closed using dissolvable stitches. Medical staples can also be used but must be removed after a few days.

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