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'No standardised maternity care' in Ireland as C-section rates vary by 20 per cent

Figures published today by the HSE show rates in Ireland exceed World Health Organisation recommendations.

Image: pregnancy women via Shutterstock

THE RATE OF Caesarean sections performed in some Irish hospitals is more double the World Health Organisation’s recommended rate, HSE figures have revealed.

The statistics, published today, also show a wide variation in this rate between hospitals.

The rate in St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, at 38 per cent, is the highest in the country, compared to the lowest of 19 per cent in Sligo General Hospital.

Sligo General Hospital is still as much as 5 per cent above the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of a national C-section rate of at most 15 per cent.

The majority of hospitals fall between the 25 and 30 per cent bracket.

The Association of Improvements in Maternity Services, Ireland (AIMS Ireland), while welcoming the publication of the statistics, said they reveal a “geographic lottery”.

“We are concerned that these regional variations in obstetric interventions across Ireland essentially present women with a ‘geographic lottery’ in terms of their maternity care. There is no standardised care,” Krysia Lynch, Co-Chair of AIMS Ireland said.

She added that the rate of episiotomy  performed is a “cause for concern” as the procedure is described in UK Guidelines as a “do not do”.

Non-instrumental delivers

The rate of non-instrumental deliveries, defined as ‘delivery cases that exclude forceps delivery, vacuum extraction delivery with delivery, breech with forceps to after-coming head or Caesarean section’, was above 50 per cent in all hospitals except St Luke’s, where it dipped to 48 per cent.

Wexford General Hospital, the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street, and Sligo General Hospital had the highest rates in this category at 65, 66, and 67 per cent respectively.

AIMS Ireland has now moved to reiterate its call for an overhaul of the maternity care model in Ireland.

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“Outdated practices”

“Outdated practices, which are evident in this data, are of no benefit to the majority of women,” Lynch said.

“High quality robust evidence, including the recently published Cochrane Review on midwife-led care, shows that the large majority of women benefit from a midwifery-led care model, not obstetric.”


(Image Credit: AIMS Ireland)

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Nicky Ryan

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