More than one third of births at the Chelsea and Westminister Hospital, in the heart of the fashionable London borough which is also home to Britain's "most fashionable high street", are now by caesarean.

For the fourth year in a row, the flagship hospital has come out "on top" in this category of the NHS Information Centre's maternity statistics, with their 36.4 per cent caesarean birth rate more than double that of Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust, the lowest at 15.3 per cent.

It is this level of descrepancy which is worrying to the Royal College of Midwives deputy general secretary, Louise Silverton: "We are concerned that the caesarean section rate remains high.

"It is a suprise that the highest caesarean rates are in London, however, the variation in rates between similar units needs explanation. It is worrying to see that the caesarean rate has remained stable in 2010-2011, compared to [last year] despite initiatives aimed at reducing caesarean section."

Nationally, caesarean rates have stayed at around the 25 per cent, however non-natural capital births are consistently greater, something Silverton believes is down to high midwife shortages in those NHS trusts.

She added: "There are more midwifery vacancies in London. We know one-to-one care from a midwife increases the possibility of a normal delivery."

New guidelines from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence giving all women the right to have a caesarean regardless of medical need, are unlikely to see a change in the trend of caesarean births which have more than doubled in the past 20 years in England.



All the data from the NHS Information Centre's report is available here.

Click here to sign the RCM's petition for 5,000 more midwives.


Posted 5/12/11 at 1700 by