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Women head overseas to give birth

New figures show the Department of Health (DH) paid for more than 250 women to go abroad for maternity care last year.

Over the last 12 months, 269 pregnant women received funding as part of an EU project that enables them to have their children in the European country of their choice.

The cost of giving birth deviates between EU states, but is roughly the same as the £735 average bill for a natural birth, or the £1,370 for a Caesarean section on the NHS.

Health minister Dawn Primarolo revealed the figures in response to a Parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb.

Mr Lamb said: "Previous schemes suggest this could be more costly than standard NHS care. Are we paying over the odds at a time when midwives are concerned about money for new staff and training?"

But a DH spokeswoman said: "Women are entitled to select which EEA (European Economic Area) member state they wish to give birth in.

"This is paid for by the Department of Health. It is in no way related to the funding allocations to Primary Care Trusts. The numbers involved are tiny compared to the number of births in the NHS, making up less than 0.05% of the 649,000 births each year."

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Department of Health

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