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Childbirth choices announced

3rd April 2007

The government has revealed its plans for revolutionising maternity and childbirth care.

childbirth1

From 2009, all pregnant women will have the choice as to whether they deliver their babies in hospital, a midwife-led unit or at home.  Expectant mothers will also be guaranteed a named midwife for the duration of their pregnancy under the new plans.

However, the government’s proposals have met with angry reactions from midwives and obstetricians who say staffing levels would need to increase dramatically if the promises are to be kept.  Midwives also say more cash is needed if the government is to meet its targets and Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, said that with 43 maternity units due to close this year, the government would struggle to fulfil its plans.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) say that cuts in maternity services over recent years have meant their members are often forced to care for more than one woman in labour and they are calling for 3,000 extra midwives to be taken on over the next five years. Dame Karlene Davis, speaking on behalf of the RCM said although she supported the new plans she was concerned that the variations in the quality and type of service women receive across the country needed to be addressed.  She added that she was also anxious that there will be enough midwives to turn the plans into a reality. Another concern voiced by midwives is how many women actually wish to give birth at home - a key part of the government’s new plans.  Currently only 2% of women choose to labour at home.

 

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