Home births beat the axe

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Toddler stroking stomach of pregnant woman.'SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY/ TSPL'FOR STOCK'PREGNANT'PREGNANCY'SINGLE PARENT'MOTHERHOOD'FUTURE'FAMILY'TSPL'SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY

MUMS-TO-BE in and around Kirkcaldy are to continue to have the choice to give birth at home.

But NHS Fife has warned that may mean other services could be cut.

The home birth service was to be axed to save cash.

A report revealed that although the cost of a home birth was considerably higher than one in a midwife-led unit, the national policy was to allow women the choice of where to have their babies.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Operational Division of NHS Fife in Kirkcaldy, Caroline Inwood, director of nursing and midwifery said she had investigated the legal position which showed that the Scottish Government’s guidelines backed the provision of home birth services including “the choice of place and method of birth.”

Midwifery staff were also united in their support of home births for ‘low risk’ women, but had concerns in significant high risk cases, and the difficulties faced in refusing mums-to-be the service.

Costs

The cost of giving birth in a Midwife Led Unit was £757, and there were 1469 deliveries in 2010/11.

Only 39 babies were born at home, and the costs were much higher - £1138 during the week, rising to £1567 at the weekend or during the night.

Mrs Inwood outlined how maternity services were moving to the new hospital wing early next year, where family-orientated facilities would offer en-suite birth rooms with baths, low lighting, soundproofing, soft music and piped entinox for pain relief, as well as two birthing pool rooms on the delivery floor.

She said: “On financial grounds, and also to a certain extent in terms of risk, there is a strong case against the continuation of a home birth service. In the light of current policy supporting choice of place of birth we would ask the committee to agree at this stage not to proceed further with the proposal.”

Dave Stewart, chairman of the operational division, said: “It would be unsafe to proceed given the current legislation.”

But he said that given the current economic climate and financial cutbacks the service may have to be reviewed again in the future and asked the executive team to ask that the national guidelines be reviewed.