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Well it’s been a turbulent one – this last week, I mean. And mostly thanks to that White Paper from the new government and its potentially radical shake-up of the health service (and I admit my use of the word ‘radical’ in this context is somewhat of an understatement). I don’t know about you, but my head’s in a spin over it.

And to top it all, today’s news story from Scotland about childbirth outside of normal working hours has left me feeling incredibly miserable. Just over a month ago I wrote about birth complications being more common in hospitals at night compared to during the day (see And WHERE not to get ill…). And now a team of gynaecologists/obstetricians from Cambridge University has analysed records from Scottish hospitals and discovered babies born outside the hours of 9 – 5 are more at risk of dying owing to a lack of oxygen than those born inside working hours. Their research has been published online today by the British Medical Journal.

Okay so let’s look at the figures. Overall, looking at the Scottish data, the Cambridge scientists discovered a baby’s risk of dying during working hours was 4.2 per 10,000 live births, compared with 5.6 per 10,000 births outside working hours. Granted, that’s a very small number and the difference between the two could be described as statistically insignificant, but maybe it’s because it’s the end of a particularly tough week and I’m feeling a bit emotional, but any sentence that includes the words ‘babies’ and ‘dying’ is not acceptable in my opinion – especially when the cause could, assumingly in many cases, be prevented.

So what is the cause? Well the Cambridge team suggests more babies may die out of hours because there are fewer specialists on duty at nights and during weekends. That statement alone is enough to strike terror into the heart of any thinking, feeling person – especially now, since the cuts that are on the cards for the NHS hardly means there’ll be more specialists on call when you need them. Will there?

I really don’t think there’s anything more to say.