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Norfolk hospitals confirm they offer caesareans on request amid national concern

PUBLISHED: 16:06 23 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:06 23 August 2018

Stock photo of a mother holding a newborn baby. Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Stock photo of a mother holding a newborn baby. Photo: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

Women in Norfolk are able to request caesarean section births, it can be revealed, after national concern that the procedure was being refused outright.

Guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) state women who ask for a caesarean should be offered one if after support and discussion with a doctor they feel it is best for them.

But a report by childbirth charity Birthrights found that only 26pc of trusts were abiding by the guidelines and many women faced delays and difficulties in requesting a caesarean on non-medical grounds.

It found that 47pc of trusts had inconsistent or confusing policies on offering caesareans on request.

And raised concerns that women who had previously undergone traumatic births would be unable to access the care they need.

But the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston confirmed they do offer caesareans at a mother’s request.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn was unable to confirm whether they did offer the procedure on a mother’s request.

Research by Birthrights also found 28pc of women requesting a caesarean did so because they had an underlying health problem, such as pelvic pain, that did not meet the medical threshold for requiring a caesarean.

Elsewhere in the country many women who requested a caesarean were told to go elsewhere.

The charity found the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxfordshire had a policy in place to refuse all maternal request caesareans.

Rebecca Schiller, chief executive of Birthrights, said in some areas it was “clear that women requesting caesarean sections meet judgemental attitudes, barriers and disrespect more often than they find compassion and support.”

Birthrights’ programmes director Maria Booker added: “Trusts are bound by human rights duties to offer individualised care.

“Any statement or policy from a trust that caesarean would only be granted on medical grounds may be incompatible with trusts’ obligations to have an open, supportive, two-way discussion that explores all reasonable options.”

She added that any policy applied in a blanket way may be incompatible with human rights law.

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