04 March 2007

Mothers Die In Understaffed NHS

The Independent reveals that a record number of women are dying or being harmed as a direct result of childbirth in what doctors are labelling a "crisis" in maternity care.

Problems are reportedly "endemic" and figures for injuries and deaths "the tip of the iceberg." The director of the NHS Perinatal Institute said, "Staff are doing their best within the confines they are given, but in many instances, mothers and babies only survive because they are lucky. The single largest problem is the lack of resources: for example, a lack of ultrasound equipment, followed by a lack of staffing, which allows mistakes to happen."

In the early 1990s, Caesareans accounted for just 9 per cent of all deliveries in Britain but they now represent nearly 22 per cent of births – going against advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which recommends that Caesarean deliveries should represent no more than 15 per cent of all births. This growing trend for medicalised deliveries, associated with the increase in older mothers, is of great concern to doctors, who fear that it increases the risk of complications, especially at a time of NHS staff cutbacks.