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Midwife shortage blamed for lowest proportion of home births in 16 years

This article was taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/16/midwife-shortage-blamed-lowest-proportion-home-births-16-years/

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Home births have fallen to their lowest level in sixteen years, new figures reveal, as health leaders say cuts to midwife numbers are restricting choice for parents.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show that just 2.1 per cent of mothers gave birth at home in 2016, despite NHS efforts to encourage the practice.

When records began in the 1960s, almost a third of babies were born at home.

But the figure has drastically fallen since then, dipping to the lowest levels in the 1980s when about one in every 100 babies was born at home.

Following the dip, the figure rose slightly over time and by 2008 2.9% of babies were born at home.

In 2015, 2.3% of babies were born at home and in 2016 it reduced slightly to 2.1%.

The last time the figure was at this level was in 2001.

There is currently a shortage of at least 3,500 midwives, according to the Royal College of Midwives.

The college’s Director of Midwifery, Louise Silverton, said: “We know many women are being denied this choice because of staffing shortages and resource issues, and this is not good enough.

“We need to ensure that those women who choose a home birth get the birth that they want.”

 The new ONS birth statistics show that women aged 35 to 39 were most likely to give birth at home while women aged under 20 were least likely.

In numbers | Problems in childbirth

1,1000

The number of maternity claims lodged in England in 2015. A new Rapid Resolution and Redress scheme will investigate complaints and aim to cut settlement time

£509.3m

The amount spent last year by the NHS on resolving legal disputes after mistakes by maternity staff.

4.5 per 1,000 births

The stillbirth rate in England and Wales – one of the worst records in the developed world

37 per cent

The proportion of maternity services deemed “inadequate” or requiring improvement by a Care Quality Commission report

£250,000

The amount pledged towards a pilot aimed at creating new ideas for improving maternity care

The figures also show regional differences – women in Wales were more likely to have a home birth compared with women in England.

The rate was highest in the south west of England and lowest in the North East.

In 2016, the stillbirth rate for England and Wales fell to 4.4 per 1,000 total births – the lowest rate since 1992 when it was 4.3.

The new figures also reveal that 10,951 mothers had a multiple birth in 2016 – but this data includes both live births and still births.

“The reduction is stillbirths is very welcome and shows that we are making progress,” said Ms Silverton.

“However, we need to do even better.”