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Midwife-led births should be the norm

7th March 2011

Think tank the King's Fund has called for midwife-led births to represent the majority of births in hospital care rather than the minority.

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It said that only one in 10 births in England in 2010 were carried out by midwives in specialist wards.

However, it warned that it was not likely that the number of midwives would increase, due to financial strain.

The Royal College of Midwives stated that another 4,000 midwives would need to be employed in order to make changes to how care was offered to pregnant women.

Researchers examined studies from the UK and abroad in order to discover ways of improving safety in maternity care without increasing spending.

A study carried out in the UK said £2.5 million might be saved if midwives, not doctors, were able to carry out examinations on healthy newborns.

The King's Fund's director of policy, Anna Dixon, said: "Expanding midwife-led care would free up doctors to spend more time caring for higher-risk women."

"Having sufficient staffing levels is important, but there is a need to rethink how staff are deployed."

RCM general secretary, Cathy Warwick, said: "Maternity care, like the rest of the NHS, is facing a storm of possible cuts to services. I am here to warn of the folly of such a course. It is difficult, if not impossible, to reorganise your workforce if you do not have enough of them in the first place."

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