Maternity: UK needs private standards as a public service, says new Green report

15 April 2009

A new policy report from the Green Party will demand radical improvements in UK maternity services.

A Green New Deal for the NHS (1) will demand a single-tier approach for all mothers, funded from the public purse:

  • A wider range of birth choices – including home birth for all women who want it
  • All women to be entitled to support from a single midwife throughout each pregnancy
  • A major recruitment drive for midwives
  • Medical interventions to be significantly reduced
  • Culture change throughout the NHS so that birth is treated as a normal event – not an illness – in which mothers are empowered and able to be in control

The Greens announced these policies on the day that a study was published in the British Obstetrics and Gynaecology Journal showing that home-birth is no more dangerous than hospital birth, for “normal” pregnanices – something Greens had long claimed, and which has now been demonstrated in a study of half a million births in the Netherlands.

The party’s recent spring conference decided the Greens must take the lead in proposing huge improvements in UK maternity services. The conference debate was told:

  • In 25% of NHS trusts intervention rates are double the targeted rates
  • There is a severe shortage of midwives within the NHS
  • The proportion of women giving birth by caesarian section remains at twice the target rate suggested by the World Health Organization
  • The bill for medical negligence in childbirth rose almost 60% from 2005 and 2007

NHS maternity services need to change direction towards midwife-led, women-centred services that provides medical interventions only when necessary.

The Greens estimate that the dramatic improvements in maternity services proposed in A Green New Deal for the NHS would cost about £500m.

Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP, who is widely tipped to become the first Green MP at Westminster in the next general election, said today: “The UK must achieve the best possible standards of maternity care. Currently, due to shortage of funding, shortage of midwives and excessive interventions, we are far behind where we ought to be. The Green Party will fight the next general election on this platform – huge improvements in the NHS, and not least in maternity services.”

Note

1. The full report A Green New Deal for the NHS is scheduled to be published on Friday 17 April.






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