The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Mothers threaten legal action over home birth ban

A group of expecting women in Norfolk have threatened their local NHS hospital with legal action, after the hospital placed a ban on home births due to a shortage of midwives.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn recently ruled that all expecting women would have to have their babies in the hospital's maternity ward, rather than at home, because of a severe shortage of midwives.

At present home birthing services are offered by most hospitals and NHS trusts, with good evidence to suggest that mothers who wish to give birth at home should be supported to do so, providing the pregnancy is low risk.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists also support home births, providing the service is safely delivered, coordinated and evidence based.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been suffering from a low number of midwives since the summer of 2013, and was placed on 'special measures' by the Care Quality Commission as a result.

Their home birthing service was suspended in September 2013 and is not due to restart until Jun 2014.

The Daily Mail interviewed a number of expecting women who had hoped to have a home birth but were told that their only option was to have their baby on the maternity ward in the hospital.

Cathryn Remmington was told at 25 weeks that she would not be allowed to give birth at home.

"I was adamant I didn't want my baby at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital," she told the Daily Mail.

"I'd told my midwives I wanted a home birth from my very first appointment, but no one ever told me. If I hadn't had the appointment with the consultant I wouldn't have been told until I was in labour and it would have been too late," she added.

Mrs Remmington has now sought legal advice from a charity called Birthrights and a local solicitor in a bid to have the hospital change their policy in time for the birth of her child.