Caesarean section rates show no signs of coming down, according to official statistics, in spite of concern that they are too high.
The NHS Information Centre said yesterday that just under a quarter of deliveries, 24%, were caesareans in 2006-7, as they were the year before. About half of those were emergencies and the rest pre-planned. Efforts to persuade more women and their doctors to attempt a normal delivery seem to have had little impact. The UK rate is considerably higher than the World Health Organisation’s target for no more than 10-15% of deliveries to be by caesarean section.
The Royal College of Midwives said the rate was “worryingly high” and linked it to a shortage of midwives. “There is clear evidence that some caesarean sections are unnecessary and put women and babies at risk,” said Cathy Warwick, general secretary designate of the RCM.
The National Childbirth Trust agreed the rate was too high. It was also concerned by figures from the NHS Information Centre showing women were going home sooner after caesareans – just over a quarter spent four days or more in hospital, compared with just under a third in the previous year. “Women who are recovering from caesareans will need more help and support and guaranteed midwife home visits, especially if they have had previous health problems,” said chief executive Belinda Phipps.