For the last two years Homerton University Hospital has provided a dedicated home birth team of six midwives. This service will be drastically cut as of the end of this year leaving it unable to provide an adequate provision for home birth in Hackney.
The service has seen a growth in home birth rates and has been hugely popular with women in the area providing a caseloading service, one-to-one care, excellent statistics (9% caesarean rate against 26% in Homerton itself), real choice of place of birth and a respect for women's right to autonomy during pregnancy and birth.
Without warning or rationale the service is now being reduced to four midwives. At this reduced capacity they will be unable to provide the level of service the women of Hackney need and deserve and will be unable to promote the further growth in home birth rate.
The reduction in the service is all the more questionable in light of recent robust evidence from the Birthplace in England 2011 study (and others) that giving birth at home dramatically reduces unnecessary medical interventions whilst being the most cost-effective place of birth for NHS Trusts.
This decision needs to be reversed urgently to ensure Homerton keeps choice of place of birth, a commitment to respectful, personal, continuous and responsive maternity care and the importance of 'normal birth' at the centre of its philiosophy for the maternity services provided to the women of Hackney.