A study of more than 30,000 women in Ireland has revealed that the rate of scheduled caesarean sections among private patients is around twice that of publically funded patients in Ireland.
The report published in the BMJ Open looked at the impact of social, medical and obstetric factors on mode of delivery among women receiving both private and publically funded care in a large urban hospital in Ireland between Jan 2008 and July 2011.
The hospital delivers between 8,000 and 9,000 babies every year and out of the total analysed, 24,574 were publically funded and 5,479 were private patients.
Private patients were more likely to be older, more affluent and better educated, and to be Irish than publically funded patients. And they were less likely to be single, childless, have an unplanned pregnancy or have booked late for obstetric care.
While they were less likely to have a medical disorder, private patients were more likely to have had fertility treatment, recurrent miscarriage or experience d a previous still birth or infant death.
The research showed that compared with publically funded patients, private patients were more likely to have a C-section or surgical vaginal delivery – vacuum or forceps.
But the greatest disparity was in the rate of planned C-sections, which was around twice as high among the private patients.