All pregnant women will soon be given the option of having a caesarean section, even when there is no medical need
In a hugely expensive move, the NHS plans to give women who do not want to give birth naturally the option to have a caesarean, according to draft guidelines.
Although a c-section costs £800 more than a natural birth, the guidelines from the Natioanl Institute for Clinical Excellence say that caesareans have become so safe that every woman should be given the option to give birth surgically.
Dr Bryan Beattie, an obstetrician involved in drawing up the guidelines, says: ‘It is a huge development in terms of allowing women to make informed choices.’
Critics, however, believe the NHS should not fund the extra cost. Caesareans now account for a quarter of all births and economists have calculated that reducing uptake by just one per cent could save the NHS £5.6million a year.
‘They are intending to create an obligation upon the NHS to provide for every woman to have the option of an elective caesarean section,’ says Dr Mark Porter. ‘It is potentially quite expensive and hugely controversial.’
The proposals could face fierce opposition from midwives and natural birth campaigners. Cathy Warwick, from the Royal College of Midwives, says: ‘We are confident that when women are fully aware of the evidence they will not be asking for inappropriate caesarean sections.’
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