NCT response: Maternity statistics for England

Released on: 20 July 2011

Mary Newburn, Head of Research and Information, NCT, said:

 

“The lack of completeness of the maternity statistics is a huge disappointment as their usefulness is limited by significant gaps.

 

“NCT is shocked that the Information Centre can operate with so little regard for the needs of maternity statistics users. They seem not to grasp the value and importance of statistics in terms of the development of maternity services. Statistics are important on so many levels: ensuring safety and quality of care, enabling policy makers to monitor trends and take action where necessary, and allowing women and their families to make informed choices about which service to use.

 

“It is important for NCT in our policy and lobbying work to be able to make inter-Trust comparisons and highlight variations in practice. Recent research1 has shown there are still wide variations in caesarean section rates, for example, that are not based on population differences or on clinical need.

 

“It has been a highly progressive step that services such as www.birthchoiceUK.com and www.nhschoices.co.uk make official statistics available and easily accessible to the public. In order to do this they are dependent upon the Information Centre providing as complete a set of data (numbers and percentages) as possible. Recent decisions to limit the data available are not in the public interest.”