Yesterday my friend sent me a link to this article proposing a ‘birth budget’ of £3,000 per birth so that women can pick and choose maternity care during their pregnancy. The BBC article suggests they might use this money to ensure continuity of care with the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and birth, or opt for a home birth over a hospital birth.
The ‘birth budget’ has been proposed as part of a review into maternity failings in recent years that have led to the unnecessary deaths of a number of babies. This plan isn’t due to be put in place until next year, so won’t affect me with this pregnancy, but it’s got me thinking about the idea in principal and whether I like it or not.
Personally, I don’t like it. This ring-fencing of NHS budgets feels like a move towards privatisation to me and personally, as someone who isn’t a medical professional, I don’t feel comfortable making these sorts of decisions about my (not to mention my unborn child’s) health.
The BBC article linked above highlighted the fact that around 9 out of 10 women have their baby in hospital, while only one in four say that this is where they’d choose to give birth. Well, I this this statement is somewhat misleading. I mean, I’d much rather have a peaceful home birth than a hospital birth.
Yep, I’d love a home birth. I’d also love to not be at higher risk of pre-eclampsia. I’d love to not have polycystic kidney disease. So if you asked me what I’d like when I think about the birth of my child, of course I’d say that a home birth would be preferable to a hospital one with medical intervention. But in actual fact, what I’d really love, is a birth with a positive outcome for the health of both myself and the baby.
And the best people to decide where that might take place? The medical professionals, in my opinion.
So rather than ring-fencing money for ‘birth budgets’, I think what this government should actually be doing is finding more ways to put money back into the frontline NHS, to stop bashing medical professionals and to make our NHS a more appealing place to work, as more midwives and better training are what’s really needed to make sure that as many births as possible end as well as possible.