Caesareans a burden on NHS

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The Independent Online
More than half of all babies could be delivered by Caesarean section within 10 years - at huge cost to the National Health Service, an expert predicts today. Professor Nicholas Fisk, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Queen Charlotte and Chelsea Hospital in London said he believed more and more women would opt for the "safe" operation, which was already thought to be on the increase in 9 out of 10 hospitals.

But the NHS is likely to feel the pain, as a new report is expected to show that a Caesarean section costs more than three times the price of a natural birth. An Audit Commission report, to be published next week, will show that it costs about pounds 360 for a baby to be born naturally, while a Caesarean costs up to pounds 1,100, according to the BBC1 Here and Now programme, to be screened this evening. About 16 per cent of all babies in Britain are born by Caesarean, and that figure is rising on average by about 1 per cent a year. The Audit Commission is expected to show that this additional 1 per cent costs the NHS an extra pounds 5m every year. Caesareans are only performed on medical grounds but Professor Fisk said that he, and many of his colleagues, would be prepared to perform the operation on demand.

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