(Monday, 6 January 2014) The Association of Improvements in Maternity Services, Ireland (AIMS Ireland) has today welcomed the publication by the HSE of detailed statistics from Ireland’s 19 public maternity units. The 2011 data includes information on C-section rates and obstetric interventions including episiotomies on a per hospital basis. This is the first time this complete dataset including all 19 units has ever been shared by the HSE. The data was released on foot of a request under the Freedom of Information Act following reports to AIMS Ireland that intervention rates were significantly above international guidelines.
Commenting, Krysia Lynch, Co-Chair of AIMS Ireland said: “We very much welcome the publication of this information on a per unit basis. Until now, women availing of maternity services in Ireland have been in the dark about the level of interventions performed at their local maternity units and this data will help inform them about where best to have their babies.
“The statistics show that there are marked regional variations in obstetrical intervention for hospital births, for example, the C-section rate in St. Luke’s in Kilkenny is at a very worrying 38% compared to a 19.13% rate in Sligo General Hospital. The World Health Organisation recommends a national C-section rate of 10%-15%. The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin also has an episiotomy rate significantly higher than any other unit in the country at 27.18%. Given that the NICE Guidelines in the UK specifically list routine episiotomy as a “do not do” (recommendation 116), such a high rate is a cause for concern.”
AIMS Ireland has produced a series of infographics based on this data to help women make informed decisions about their maternity care. The infographics will be published throughout January and will be available to download and share from the organisation’s Facebook page,www.facebook.com/aims.ireland and from their website, www.aimsireland.com. The first infographic based on maternity units’ C-section and episiotomy rates is available today.
Concluding, Lynch added: “While we are delighted that these figures are finally available to the public 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. AIMS Ireland once again calls for an overhaul of the maternity care model in Ireland. Our maternity services are 90% obstetric-led and lack continuity of care. Outdated practices, which are evident in this data, are of no benefit to the majority of women. 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. Obstetric-led care has a very important place in Irish maternity services and should be available for women who want or need this type of maternity care, however, in failing to provide evidence-based care options, valuable resources are being over-utilised as women have no option but to birth in under-staffed and over-crowded consultant led units.”
The statistics are available to view here:
The C-section and episiotomy infographics are available here: