Feb 21, 2022

NHS England drops limit on offering Caesarean births

The NHS in England will no longer limit the amount of Caesarean sections it performs, under plans to improve care for mothers and babies. Maternity units were previously encouraged to promote natural births and keep the Caesarean rate to about 20%.It comes after one NHS trust was criticised for poor maternity care. In a letter seen by BBC News, maternity staff have been told to treat cases on an individual basis and follow National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance allowing women to opt for a planned Caesarean even if it is not for medical reasons. "We therefore ask all maternity services to stop using total Caesarean section rates as a means of performance management, as we are concerned by the potential for services to pursue targets that may be clinically inappropriate and unsafe in individual cases," the letter says. Last year, after the Health and Social Care Committee found 1,000 more babies a year would survive if England had safer maternity services, the government announced £2m was being put into research to spot early signs of distress.

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