NCT response: Maternity Statistics for Wales

Released on: 31 January 2012

The latest Maternity Statistics on method of delivery produced by the Welsh Government were released on 31 January 2012. The statistics can be seen in full here: http://new.wales.gov.uk/topics/statistics/headlines/health2012/120131/?lang=en

Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser at NCT, the UK’s largest charity for parents, said:

“It is disappointing to see a small rise in caesarean sections, and the number of unassisted births falling from 67% in 2003-04 to 61% in 2010-11. A drop in the home birth rate to less than 4 per cent is also unwelcome news, as in the past Wales has demonstrated some excellent practice, and notably a thriving home birth service in rural areas. Transport links in Wales do not always support easy travel of women in labour to hospital, so provision of community-based maternity services must be maintained.

“In a pattern repeated across the UK, we have seen the number of births in Wales rise rapidly over the last decade, coupled with an increase in the number of births to women aged 40 or over. Simultaneously, cuts to the number of midwives have led to a serious shortfall and a stretched service which struggles to keep up with demand.

“Following the publication of the Welsh Government’s plan to reform maternity services in September, we hope to see these moves implemented rapidly. We would like to see more midwife-led units and an effective home birth service, offering more choice to women and their families. Evidence shows that births out of hospital result in fewer interventions, so this would help to lower the caesarean section rate and be less demanding on midwife time, reducing the pressure on the service. We also need to see commitment to having enough midwives in place, both immediately and in the future, to support all families in Wales.”