GPs `discourage home births'

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The Independent Online
MOST FAMILY doctors oppose home births and are failing to give pregnant women a choice over where they have their babies, a survey suggests.

Five years after Changing Childbirth, a government report, urged doctors to give women a greater say in their maternity care, many GPs insist that home births are dangerous and some have threatened women who requested one with removal from their list. The survey by the National Childbirth Trust found enthusiasm for home births varied widely around the country. The average for the country is between one in 30 and one in 100 babies delivered at home.

The survey of 100 NCT branches and members of maternity services committees indicated that the respondents thought more than half the country's GPs are not giving women a choice.

Linda Turner, an NCT spokeswoman said: "It is purely subjective and we make no apologies for that. If you asked the GPs they might say they offered home birth. But in what way do they offer it?"

Rick Porter, consultant obstetrician at the United Hospitals Trust in Bath, said: "I don't understand why there is such persistent resistance to home births. There is no adequate evidence to adopt a negative attitude on safety grounds."

Responding to the survey, the British Medical Association said not all GPs had the skills to supervise home births. Dr John Chisholm, chairman of the GPs committee, said GPs must make clear at the outset if they are unwilling to provide a home birth and refer women who want one to another doctor.