The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust has been forced to backtrack on claims its rate of emergency caesarean sections were within normal limits after The Independent learned they are among the lowest in the country.
The hospital has tonight issued a clarification to its statement issued yesterday when The Independent showed the trust had among the lowest overall rates of caesarean sections in the country across an eight year period since 2010.
Critics of the trust, which is at the centre of the worst maternity scandal in the history of the NHS, said the data suggests doctors and midwives may have waited too long to intervene during difficult births.
Yesterday Adam Gornall, clinical director for maternity at the Shrewsbury trust accepted the overall rate was lower but added: “closer inspection shows that for women entering labour, the chance of them having an emergency c-section was within normal limits. This would suggest that there is not a drive towards natural birth.”
Using hospital episode statistics data The Independent has now learned the trust also had among the lowest rates of emergency caesareans.
According to the data between 2010-11 and 2018-19 the trusts rate of emergency caesarean sections was consistently below the English average and was ranked either bottom out of 140 trusts or was within the bottom five trusts each year.
For 2018-19 the trust was ranked 127 out of 129 trusts for emergency caesareans with 12 per cent of all births compared to 17 per cent nationally.
Separately, an analysis by NHS Digital, which included trusts with no or unknown numbers of caesarean sections, which were excluded in The Independent analysis, showed the trust was consistently one of the lowest five trusts between 2010-11 and 2018-19, apart from 2015-16 and 2016-17, when it was 7th and 10th lowest, respectively.
A spokesperson for the trust clarified its statement yesterday making clear the emergency c-section rates were among the lowest for NHS trusts.
In a new statement Mr Gornall said: “Natural birth has benefits including being more likely to be able to breastfeed shortly after birth and having a shorter hospital stay. We do not put natural birth over intervention, but assess and escalate each woman as necessary to safeguard or give best outcome for mothers and their babies.
“We intervene as appropriate, for example our rates for induction of labour are higher than usual. Reasons for inducing labour can include: reduced fetal movements, smoking during pregnancy, growth of the baby and maternal age.
“Caesarean section and natural birth are both not without risks to the mother and baby. Although we do have low rates for Caesarean section, several national data sources have shown that this is not associated with a higher level of harm.”