20/04/2012 13:09 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

'Home Births Should Be Encouraged To Save NHS Money'

Homebirths cheaper than hospital deliveries and should be encouraged by the NHS PA

Researchers say that home births for mums having their second and subsequent babies could save the NHS thousands of pounds.

The Birthplace study claims mums who have already given birth and are deemed to be at low risk of complications could safely give birth at home or in an independent midwifery unit.

The researchers - who looked at data on 64,000 deliveries in England - say that home births are safe for baby and better for the mum.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has previously suggested that research should be carried out into the cost-effectiveness of delivering outside of a hospital unit.

It is estimated that a hospital birth in an obstetric unit costs £1,142 per woman, while a home birth is just £780.

The study's co-author Liz Schroder said: "At the time of the study, only half of the NHS Trusts in England provided women with access to a midwifery unit, and occupancy levels were often low. The findings of the Birthplace study may encourage women – particularly women having a second or subsequent baby - to request an 'out of hospital' birth.

"And the potential for cost savings could make offering women more choice an attractive option for the NHS."

The study was undertaken by researchers at Oxford University. They examined obstetric units and midwifery units in hospitals as well as midwife-led units and home births.

It concluded that for experienced, low-risk mums, a home birth was the most cost-effective option, and were safe for mum and baby, with fewer obstetric interventions.

Planned deliveries in midwifery units were also safe and saved money compared to using an obstetric unit.

The study did however find that for first time mums, home births were still cheaper but led to poorer outcomes for the mothers.

What do you think? Obvious findings?
Do you think in reality, the NHS routinely discourages home birth, regardless of whether it is baby one or five?