The Irish government has pledged to improve maternal choice by expanding midwifery-led care throughout the country. Earlier this year, I posted about an Irish study examining women’s preferences for maternity care and subsequent motivations when choosing place of birth (Maternity Care – what do women want?). Since then, the cost-benefit analysis of midwifery- and consultant-led care in Ireland has been published in Applied Health Economics & Health Policy.
This is the first study to estimate the net benefit of consultant- and midwifery-led models of care using cost-benefit methodology and women’s preferences for maternity care, with the results arriving at a particularly useful juncture in Irish policy formulation. While both models of care are cost-beneficial for low-risk patients, the net benefit for consultant led-care is considerably smaller. This study demonstrates the demand for midwifery-led care in Ireland, which is currently provided in only two hospitals in the north-east of the country. It also demonstrates potential cost-savings from providing midwifery-led care for low-risk women as an alternative to consultant-led care in hospitals across Ireland. It is important to note that consultant-led care is necessary for high-risk patients and is an important maternal choice for all maternity care patients.
This research was supported by the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre of Ireland.