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Herefordshire's PCT bans 'unnecessary' caesareans

Hereford County Hospital has brought a halt to women opting for 'unnecessary' caesareans, as the NHS encourages more women to give birth naturally.

While women can still choose to have a caesarean section, if there is a chance a natural birth may put them or their baby at risk, the Hereford Times reports Herefordshire's primary care trust has joined a handful of PCTs steering mums-to-be away from the surgery.

As planned caesareans are estimated to cost around £1,000 more than a natural birth without complications, the push is expected to bring in savings of millions of pounds across the UK.

However, the move has been labeled a 'crude' way of cost-cutting by some critics.

Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive of the National Childbirth Trust, told the Hereford Times: "We want every woman to have a positive experience of birth and if, for whatever reason, she feels she wants or needs a caesarean then the NCT believes she should have that opportunity."

An estimated quarter of all babies in the UK are delivered via caesarean - more than the World Health Organisation's recommended 15%.

National Childbirth Trust

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"It is completely (and probably deliberately) wrong to compare the cost of elective CS with 'vaginal birth without complications', for the following reasons:
1. Of all women aiming for a vaginal birth, around 10-12% will end up with an emergency CS. Emergency CS carries greater risk for both mother and baby (and is more expensive) compared with elective CS.
2. Of the women who do deliver vaginally, a significant proportion will have a complication, eg heavy bleeding, instrumental delivery (8-10%) etc.
2. The calculation of the cost of elective CS looked at All elective CS.
Most elective CS are for medical reasons and therefore have more complications (and are more expensive) than elective CS for maternal request (which by definition are in healthy women with no medical indication). When all of these facts are taken into account, the apparent £1,000 difference in cost shrinks to such a small amount that it no longer justifies denying women elective CS on financial grounds. And, given that everyone seems to agree that women should be offered choice, what justification is there?" - Pat O'Brien, London

"I agree with Herefordshire PCT. Informed choice is essential to be supported. The NHS doesn't have an endless pit of funding. Cost for services has to be considered as the doctors, nurses, staff involved and the cost of surgical, medical care supplies has to be paid for by someone. If a choice of convenience is to be supported, then this can be tagged
with a bill. This will then allow for other care to be paid for, ie
neonatal, cardiac, cancer services and many more emergency care. Well done to Herefordshire PCT for this introduction of thought. If one wants to opt out then she should be supported and payment should be accepted as a standard practice" - Anne M, Wilts

"No caesarean should be given or offered if there is a risk to life" - Sylvia Campbell, West Midlands