Hospital denies high caesarean rates

IPSWICH Hospital has refuted claims by a leading parenting charity that it has one of the country's highest rates of caesarean births.

Tom Potter

IPSWICH Hospital has refuted claims by a leading parenting charity that it has one of the country's highest rates of caesarean births.

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) had raised concerns over NHS maternity statistics for England between 2007 and 2008, showing Ipswich as having the fourth highest rate with 31.7 percent of mothers having a caesarean delivery.

But the hospital has revealed that its own figures indicate just 23.4pc of deliveries were by caesarean section and that only 10pc of mothers elected to undergo the procedure.

The NCT fears an overall rise in the numbers of inductions, instrumental deliveries, anaesthetic and caesarean delivery rates mean higher numbers of complicated births for women.

But Ipswich Hospital said it has a “committed staff who would not advise a caesarean for lifestyle reasons” and that it has “a very high satisfaction rate from mums”.

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The NCT listed Ipswich Hospital among seven trusts and maternity units with caesarean rates above 30pc but admitted the quality of 2007/08 maternity data had deteriorated in comparison to previous years.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of NCT, said: “The figures are concerning and show we are still failing to give a high number of women in England the birth they want and exposing them instead to births that can be physically and emotionally traumatic.

“We need greater investment in maternity services for one to one midwifery care for women, giving them every possible chance to have the straightforward birth they want.”

The charity said a rise in the number of elective caesareans appears too high as most pregnant women are healthy and at low risk of complications.

National figures showed that, due to a rise in the numbers of both elective caesareans and emergency caesareans, the overall rate is up by 0.3pc to 24.6pc which, by Ipswich Hospital's account, puts it below the national average.

Jan Rowsell, Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman, said: “Midwives are very passionate about giving people choices and it is national policy to give women about to have a baby as much choice as possible.

“They are very focused on what women want and, wherever possible, they do everything they can to honour their choice.”