Alison Edwards, senior lecturer in Midwifery at Birmingham City University

Provision of women’s choice has always been high on the midwifery agenda however, there are a number of blocks that may hinder the implementation of ‘birth budgets’, announced in the news this week.

Just because a woman is given money to access services doesn’t alter the fact that services are already under resourced. Women requesting extra scans for example would mean stretching a resource already at capacity much further.

Independent midwives are also on the decline. Should we see more and more women request home births, there needs to be a dramatic increase in the number of midwives to care for them.

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Whilst on this subject, Jeremy Hunt’s comment that ‘evidence to support safety at home birth is questionable’, is inaccurate. Recent findings from a Safer Births project by The Kings Fund last year demonstrated clearly that for second and subsequent births, home births are no more dangerous than a hospital birth and to some extent they are safer.

Giving women the option to choose is a good thing, but they will need guidance to what would be appropriate.

It is unclear whether women would just be handed £3000 or whether they would claim it when they request some aspect of care. It is disconcerting that there isn’t a budget to support expanding services but suddenly there is one to give every woman £3000, when there are 800,000 births per year.  What happens if there are no resources to provide what is being asked for?

Find out more about studying midwifery at Birmingham City University.

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Alison Edwards

Alison Edwards

Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Health