The home birth may be slowly growing in popularity and availability here in the UK, yet it's still considered risky taboo for many and scare stories like this highlighted by The Times don't help its case.
The Albany practice, an independent South London midwifery group specializing in home births has had its contract terminated by the NHS because of a confidential report suggesting it had ten times the normal rate of babies born with serious complications like brain damage.
Yet experts, Albany advocates and government figures alike have raised concerns over the confidentiality of this inquiry and why it was not carried out in conjunction with the Care Quality Commission, the health regulator.
King’s College Hospital commissioned this report and claims that its findings do not equate with an anti home birth stance but rather the need for closer monitoring of midwifery services. Yet details of the "serious shortcomings" identified and comparative assessment of birth rates between Albany and other midwifery practices are glaringly absent, and create a transparency gap that undermines the very nature of the report's findings.
It's crucial that NHS and contracted home birth midwives follow strict due diligence and safety protocols. When they do, it's been shown the home birth can be a fantastic experience. Shortcomings should be identified and rooted out, however the key here is identification and transparency. Axing a leading midwifery service over ambiguous failures only serves to scare and rile up the masses.