Record-breaking number of babies delivered by caesarean-section in Northumberland

More babies were delivered through caesareans in Northumberland last year than ever before, figures reveal.

By Patrick Jack
Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 3:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st June 2022, 3:11 pm

NHS England recently told hospitals to stop using caesarean section rates as performance targets as they might be "clinically inappropriate and unsafe" for patients – though these figures pre-date the move.

Of the 730 births recorded in Northumberland in 2020-21 in Office for Health Improvement and Disparities figures, 31.2% were delivered by C-section.

That was up from 30.2% the year before, and the highest rate since records began in 2014-15.

More babies were delivered via caesareans in Northumberland last year than ever before.

Across England, 32.5% of births in England in 2020-21 were delivered by caesarean section – up from 30.1% in 2019-20.

This rate was also a record high.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said it welcomed the decision from NHS England, as caesarean birth targets are "not appropriate in individual circumstances".

Dr Teresa Kelly, consultant obstetrician and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said both vaginal and caesarean births carry certain benefits and risks, but that a woman's informed choice should always be respected and supported.

She added: “Childbirth is unpredictable and complications can and do arise.

"The safety and care of women during labour and birth and the safe arrival of their babies should always be the main focus, and medical intervention in some cases can be lifesaving."

The general fertility rate – measured by the number of babies born for every 1,000 females aged between 15 and 44 – fell to just 55.3 in 2020, the latest figures available.

In Northumberland, the rate was 48.9 in 2020 – down from 51.1 in 2019, and also the lowest since comparable records began in 2010.