High caesarean rates at Royal Sussex County Hospital

The number of caesarean sections carried out at the Royal Sussex County Hospital is higher than the hospital's own target, according to NHS figures.

Some months, 32% of births are caesarean - as opposed to the hospital's target of 23%.

The trust which runs the hospital is taking part in a project in the south east to promote giving birth naturally.

Project leader Tony Kelly said caesarean rates had increased nationwide in the last 30 years.

Mr Kelly, who is a consultant obstetrician for the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, denied the increase was due to mothers being "too posh to push".

"The number of women choosing to have a caesarean make up a very small proportion of the number of caesareans we do - less than 4%," he said.

"Overall what we're aiming for is women getting the highest quality information to help them make the right decision."

'Ultimately better'

Between August 2010 and September 2011, the monthly average number of caesareans at the hospital was 28% - higher than its target of 23%.

Mr Kelly said doctors hoped to make mothers, particularly ones who are having their first baby, confident about the decisions they are making.

Sally Cropper, who works as a doula, providing non-medical support to families during pregnancy and childbirth, said when a woman says she does not want to go through the pain of a natural birth, staff would try to explore the reasons why she holds those feelings.

"[We would] not persuade her, but present her with the very strong facts to go for a natural birth because that's what is ultimately better for a mother and baby," she said.

The Normalising Birth Project was launched across the south east region in March 2010 and involves midwives and obstetricians in 11 delivery units across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

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