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Emergency Obstetric Teams

Volume 14: debated on Thursday 3 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what proportion of pregnant women live in areas not covered by emergency obstetric teams;(2) what proportion of children are born handicapped following home delivery in areas not covered by emergency obstetric teams; and how this figure compares with areas where such teams are available.

I regret that this information is not available. We do not, as yet have a system for detecting and registering all handicapped children at birth, irrespective of whether they are born in consultant units, general practitioner units or by home confinement. Information about emergency obstetric teams is not collected centrally.The Department and the professions have for some time been considering how best a satisfactory domiciliary confinement service can be provided for women who want to have their babies at home. All the professional bodies concerned have been consulted and we have received a wide range of comments.Women should be encouraged whenever possible to have their babies in a fully-equipped hospital offering the range of obstetric, paediatric and supporting services for emergencies. However, if a mother wishes to be delivered at home, she should be able to do so. It is an important responsibility of health authorities to ensure that services are provided to make domiciliary confinements as safe as circumstances permit.The demand for home confinement, and the competing claims on the medical and midwifery staff available, vary considerably up and down the country. Individual authorities are therefore best able to plan a satisfactory service locally. We asked them in Cmnd. 8084 and health circular (80)13 to review their arrangements for home confinements, including the provision of emergency transport, in discussion with all the professional staff involved, and to ensure that arrangements are known locally.