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Births (Home Deliveries)

Volume 26: debated on Tuesday 29 June 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps are being taken by district health authorities to ensure that home deliveries are as safe as possible;(2) if he is satisfied that there are adequate midwifery facilities available in all parts of the United Kingdom to provide for those mothers who wish to have their babies at home.

In answer to a parliamentary question from my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Mr. Needham) on 3 December 1981—[Vol. 14, c. 209]—my hon. Friend the then Minister for Health, stated:

"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 answer went on to state:

"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."—[Official Report, 3 December 1981; Vol. 14, c. 209.]

This reply was circulated to all regional and area health authorities at the time.