21/08/2011 18:50 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Hospitals Ban C-Sections To Cut Costs

Victoria Beckham who had 4 c-sections PA Victoria Beckham, who has had four planned C-sections

A number of NHS Trusts have announced they are cutting the number of caesareans performed and will only give approval for a c-section if the mother's health would be put at risk by a natural birth.

They have launched the crackdown on women who are 'too posh to push' – saying it wastes millions of pounds of NHS money every year.

One quarter of all births in the UK are now by caesarean section, up from just 9 per cent in 1980, despite a campaign by the World Health Organisation, which believes there is no justification for any country having a rate exceeding 15 per cent.

A planned caesarean is £800 more expensive than a natural birth.

But some mothers have attacked the restrictions, saying it should be a woman's right to choose how their baby is born.

Economists estimate that a drop of 1 per cent in the proportion of women having the surgery would save the NHS an estimated £5.6million a year.

Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, which represents GPs who run health service budgets, said: 'We are going to need to balance all sorts of things in future, from cancer to heart disease. When it comes to treatments we may need to spend less on, that [caesareans] may be one.'

The restrictions have been put in place by Primary Care Trusts in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Herefordshire, Bristol, South Staffordshire, County Durham, Dorset, Derbyshire, and Bournemouth and Poole.

The bans only affect planned caesareans, not c-sections which are carried out for emergency reasons. If a natural birth would pose a health risk for mother or baby, a c-section would be allowed.

Health experts have long argued that women should go for a natural birth because the risks are lower. A birth by c-section increases a baby's chance of breathing difficulties, and mothers may find it harder to bond with a child while recovering from a major operation. They can also suffer potentially fatal placenta problems.

But some mothers' groups say that patient choice is more important than notions of objective risk. They argue that woman opt for planned caesareans to avoid the trauma of an emergency procedure and to reduce the risk of post-natal conditions such as incontinence.

Later this year, the NHS rationing body NICE is expected to bring out a report saying women should be able to choose their method of birth.

Maureen Treadwell, of the Birth Trauma Association told the Daily Mail: 'There are a small group of women who appraise the risks of natural birth versus caesarean and consider caesarean is better. They are making a well-informed decision, taking account of the priorities that are most important to them.'

What do you think?
It should be a woman's right to choose how she gives birth, with medical advice?
Or, this is a necessary measure to cut hospital costs?