An obstetrician has branded proposals to reduce the number of Caesarean deliveries and amount of pain relief available to mums in labour as a 'recipe for disaster'.
The financial cut backs are part of a bid to save the NHS £20million, but Professor Philip Steer said it would 'very likely put mums and babies at increased risk.'
The money-saving cuts of £4million a year over the next five years are due to start next year, under plans drawn up by the Royal College of Obstetricians, the Royal College of Midwives and the National Childbirth Trust.
Epidurals - which are used by one in five mums-to-be - currently cost £200 a time, and are set to be limited under the proposals. Caesareans, which account for 26 per cent of births - cost the NHS £2,500 per patient.
The plans - which are set out in a document drawn up for the GP Commissioners who will govern many hospital budgets from next year - were defended by Cathy Warwick of the Royal College of Midwives. She said that 'there are women who are having Caesareans and epidurals who do not want to have them.
The Department of Health insisted that the 'safety of mother and baby always comes first'.
What do you think about these proposals?
Are C-sections and epidurals given all too routinely?
Can you imagine how you'd feel being turned down for an epidural on the grounds of cost?