Caesarean sections at 38% above HSE's target
THE NUMBER of Caesarean sections being carried out in Irish hospitals is 38 per cent greater than a target set by the Health Service Executive, according to new figures
The figures in the HSE’s monthly performance reports show the Caesarean section rate in Irish hospitals was just under 28 per cent for the year to the end of July.
The target for the procedure set by the HSE in conjunction with the Department of Health is that just 20 per cent of all births in the State should be via Caesarean section.
The surgical procedure involves incisions made through a mother’s abdomen and uterus to deliver her baby or babies.
The rate of Caesarean sections carried out in Ireland has increased greatly in the past 20 years in Ireland. In 1990, the figure stood at just over 10 per cent.
The most recent international figures show that Ireland’s C-section rate is just ahead of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) average. It is 2.5 per cent higher than in the UK and 6 per cent ahead of France.
The highest C-section rate recorded by the OECD is in Brazil at just over 47 per cent and the lowest rate is in the Netherlands at just over 14 per cent.
In a statement to The Irish Times, the HSE said the overall rate of about 27 or 28 per cent of all babies being delivered by Caesarean section was in line with rates in other OECD countries and all 27 EU countries.
It also said the target within the performance report was set “a number of years ago, following input from the HSE, the Department of Health, and with regard to the then World Health Organisation recommendation of a 15 per cent rate”.
Prof Michael Turner, clinical lead for the HSE’s obstetrics and gynaecology programme, and UCD professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, said the figures measured shouldn’t be examined in isolation from other key performance indicators.
For example, the perinatal mortality rate had dropped in the first decade of this century, he said.