Promoting Normal Birth and Reducing Caesarean Section Rates: An Evaluation of the Rapid Improvement Programme
Graham Cookson and Ioannis Laliotis
This paper evaluates the impact of the 2008 Rapid Improvement Programme that aimed at promoting normal birth and reducing caesarean section rates in the English NHS. Using Hospital Episode Statistics maternity records for the period 2001-2013 a panel data analysis was performed to determine whether the implementation of the programme reduced caesarean sections rates in participating hospitals. The results obtained using either the unadjusted sample of hospitals or a trimmed sample determined by a propensity score matching approach indicate that the impact of the programme was small. More specifically there were 2.3 to 3.4 fewer caesarean deliveries in participating hospitals, on average, during the post-programme period offering a limited scope for cost reduction. This result mainly comes from the reduction in the number of emergency caesareans as no significant effect was uncovered for planned caesarean deliveries.