Home births more 'cost effective'20th April 2012
Research by a team at the University of Oxford has indicated that planned births at home and in midwifery units are more cost-effective than giving birth in hospital.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, where they compared costs and outcomes for mother and baby of giving birth in different locations, they said this was particularly the case for women who had given birth before.
They focused on 60,000 low-risk women in England, who were studied over two years using data from the Birthplace in England national study.
The study calculated the cost, and health effects, of women at low-risk of complications giving birth.
Health economist Liz Schroeder, who is co-author of the study, said the findings may encourage women - particularly women having a second or subsequent baby - to request an 'out of hospital' birth.
“The potential for cost savings could make offering women more choice an attractive option for the NHS,” she added.
Figures show that the average cost per low-risk woman planning birth at the start of labour was £1,631 for an obstetric unit, compared with £1,067 at home.
Mervi Jokinen, professional adviser to the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Well-organised home births are perfectly viable for low-risk women, and we know there are other benefits too, like less stress and more comfort.
“But women should be able to receive one-to-one care, whether at home or in hospital.”
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said that the study results supported the development of midwifery units within hospitals.
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