Guernsey Press

Deputy wants elective caesarean sections data to be made public

A deputy is calling for Health & Social Care to release its data on how many island births were by elective caesarean section, in a bid to help mothers understand how accepted the procedure is.

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Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller. (33250369)

Sasha Kazantseva-Miller asked Rule 14 questions following HSC’s Scrutiny hearing, during which States medical director Dr Peter Rabey said that birth data by elective C-section was no longer being segregated and collected based on UK guidance.

HSC president Al Brouard clarified in a response to Deputy Kazantseva-Miller’s questions that Dr Rabey meant that HSC did still collect the data, but no longer attempted to set targets for C-section rates due to National Institute for Health & Care Excellence guidance on the desirability of a low c-section birth rate having changed in 2021.

The guidance – which is supported by HSC – states that a woman’s choice to have a caesarean birth should be supported if that is her request following an informed discussion about the birthing options available to her.

Deputy Brouard confirmed that local birth data was still segregated into births by C-section, forceps, ventouse – or suction forceps – and vaginal births, as well as some sub-categories, as part of a monthly clinical scorecard.

However, he said that this data was only used internally for service monitoring as required, and was not routinely published as it was possible over a short timescale to identify individuals in some of the groups due to the small numbers involved.

Deputy Kazantseva-Miller did not agree with HSC’s response.

‘I don’t think what HSC is saying is an appropriate argument,’ she said.

‘Publication is very much in the public interest for parents, especially mothers in terms of their understanding of the acceptance and availability of C-section births in light of the NICE guidance, and just as an independent metric of birthing in Guernsey.’

Deputy Kazantseva-Miller said that, based on figures given by Dr Rabey at HSC’s Scrutiny hearing, there was a large enough volume of births on the island each year – about 550 – to ensure that publication of any data would not lead to identification of individuals.

She added that both the UK and Jersey already published such data.

According to the NHS, about 25% of pregnant women in the UK have a caesarean birth.

Meanwhile in Jersey, during the three-year period 2020-2022 around 40% of all births were by C-section.