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Limit on Caesarean births dropped by NHS England

The NHS is set to cut out the limit put on the number of Caesarean births it carries out

Limit of Caesarean births lifted

Maternity units will no longer limit the number of Caesarean births it performs

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The limit on the number of Caesarean births carried out by the NHS in England is set to be scrapped in a bid to improve the care offered to mothers and babies.

Previous guidance for maternity units was to encourage natural births where possible and aim to limit the Caesarean rate to around 20% of births.

Updated guidance now says maternity units are to treat each case on an individual basis whilst following latest National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advice and offering women the right to choose a planned Caesarean whether for medical reasons or not. 

The previous guidance was based on advice outlined by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) that was set out in 2012.

BBC News reveal the latest guidelines are outlined in a letter from NHS England by chief midwife Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent and clinical director for women's health Dr Matthew Joly who expressed “concern” trusts were focused on hitting targets.

The letter says: “We therefore ask all maternity services to stop using total Caesarean section rates as a means of performance management, as we are concerned by the potential for services to pursue targets that may be clinically inappropriate and unsafe in individual cases.”

The news was welcomed by vice president of RCOG, Dr Jo Mountfield. 

Dr Mountfield said of the clarification: “These targets carry certain benefits and risks, which should be discussed with women as they choose how they wish to give birth.
"Women and people giving birth should feel supported and their choices should be respected."

Read more about Caesarean births here

Limit on Caesarean births dropped by NHS England