A report published by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists (RCOG) shows “considerable variations” in the types of interventions given during labour across maternity units.
According to the study there was a significant difference between NHS Trusts with the lowest and highest rates of emergency caesarean sections, from 8% to 15%.
Variations were also found among pregnant women giving birth for the first time who had an instrumental delivery (19% to 29%) and episiotomy (29% to 44%).
RCOG said that results were adjusted for control factors; such as a woman’s birth history, age and social background.
Overall, 55% of first-time mothers had some sort of intervention during labour.
Responding to the study, President of RCOG Dr David Richmond said: “We are concerned about the amount of variation identified in this report. Although the exact causes are difficult to establish, it is paramount that maternity units have information about their services, as well as the ability to compare themselves to the national average and to their peers.”
As well as variations in interventions during labour, the report stated that 10% of NHS Trusts failed data quality checks.
Co-author of the report and Reader in Health Services Research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dr David Cromwell says there is a continued need for improvements to data quality.
“Despite a continued need for improvements in data quality across the NHS, the information provided to trusts within this report will help them to monitor local practice and deliver consistently good care throughout the country.”
The report was conducted in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
More details about the study can be found on the RCOG website.
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