Letter: Maternity takeover

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I read with interest Jeremy Laurance's article "Surgeons still try to cover up errors" (5 March), especially the fact that 350 obstetricians face redundancy because there are too few consultant posts.

May I point out that the statutory duty for maternity care lies with midwives and not with obstetricians and the crisis surrounding maternity services does not lie with the excess supply of obstetricians but rather with the dearth of midwives.

Ever since the management of maternity services was grabbed by obstetricians/ gynaecologists there has been a falling off in the service to mothers and a massive increase in obstetric intervention. Recommended standards of care in labour depends on meeting a ratio of mothers to midwives of 35:1 and has nothing to do with the level of obstetricians employed.

The huge over-supply of gynaecologists/ obstetricians allows a caesarean section rate which is more than one third in excess of the World Health Organisation standard.

It is about time we stopped listening to the dire warnings of the BMA which is, after all, the lobbying body for doctors, and started listening to what women want from obstetric and gynaecological services.


Community Health Council Member