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NHS 'not ready' for growing demand of home births

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Research has found home births are just as safe as hospital deliveries but concerns have been raised that the NHS is not set up to meet the increased demand.

According to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the latest research is a `major step forward` in showing that there are no significant differences between the two deliveries.

Researchers looked at death rates during the first 24 hours after delivery and the first week following birth, as well as admission rates to neonatal intensive care units and found no increased risk with home births.

But Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the RCM, said that the health service is currently geared towards hospital births and reorganisation is needed if it is to support more women giving birth at home.

She said an extra 5,000 full-time midwives are needed to fulfil Government pledges on maternity, but ministers have only said an additional 3,400 midwives will be in place by 2012.

Figures published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics show the number of home births has increased since they dipped to an all time low in 1988, when just 0.9% of births were at home.

In 2006 2.7%, 18,100, of all births in England and Wales were at home.

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