Number of C-sections continues to increase

The number of women giving birth by Caesarean section (C-section) in Ireland continues to rise, year on year, as does the number of people taking antibiotics.

A report by the Department of Health, National Healthcare Quality Reporting System (NHQRS) shows that on average 30.4% of women giving birth in Irish hospitals do so by C-section.

Cork University Maternity Hospital had one of the highest percentages of births by C-section at 32%, compared with the lowest figure of 24.3% in the National Maternity Hospital. St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny had the highest rate of births by C-sections at 35.5%.

These figures relate to provisional data from 2014. The Irish figures are above the OECD average of 27.6%.

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said there are several reasons why our C-section rates are above the norm.

“Caesarean section rates have been increasing. There are lots of reasons for that, it doesn’t always imply that it’s inappropriate.

“There’s no question that in the environment we are in at the moment, that more practitioners particularly obstetricians are more risk averse than would be before and leading to earlier intervention decisions. So you put together a lot of factors like that and it can explain the overall trend,” Dr Holohan said yesterday.

Another increase found in the annual report, the second of its kind, was a rise in antibiotic consumption across Ireland. There was a 9% increase of antibiotic consumption in 2015 compared with last year. The lowest rate of consumption was recorded in Roscommon, whereas the highest rate was in Longford.

The Department of Health’s report also recorded the mortality rates in various Irish hospitals for a range of conditions such as stroke and heart failure.

Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, has the highest mortality rate, at 13.21%, in cases of ischaemic stroke. Ischaemic stroke is the most common form of stroke and is caused by a blood clot.

Cork University Hospital had the next highest mortality rate at 12.2% for ischaemic strokes, and the lowest mortality rate occurred in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, with 5.45%. These figures related to the period between 2013 and 2015.

Another recorded statistic related to surgery waiting times when people were admitted to hospital with hip fractures.

In the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, only 75.1% of patients had surgery within two days.

Whereas 94.6% of patients in St Vincent’s University Hospital had received surgery within two days.

In Cork University Hospital 76.5% of hip fracture patients received surgery within two days.


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