OBJECTIVE--To assess the effects of a revised obstetric booking policy whereby all low risk pregnant women received their antenatal care entirely in the community. DESIGN--Comparison of the distribution of antenatal clinic attendances, transfers, and perinatal mortality rates for 1987 and 1989, before and after introduction of the revised policy. SETTING--West Berkshire Health District. SUBJECTS--All women who delivered with a registrable birth in the district in 1987 (5817 women) and 1989 (5372). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Attendances at community and consultant antenatal clinics; bookings transferred from community care to consultant care; perinatal mortality rates. RESULTS--Of 5372 women delivering in West Berkshire in 1989, 3185 (58.3%) were originally booked for general practitioner-midwife care, of whom 1567 (49.2% of general practitioner-midwife bookings) were transferred to consultant care. 1618 women (30.1% of all women delivered) received their entire obstetric care from general practitioners and midwives. Attendance at hospital antenatal clinics was reduced by 16%. In 1989 the perinatal mortality rates (1987 values) for the district were 6.3 (7.6) per 1000 births overall; 8.2 (8.3) per 1000 consultant bookings; 5.0 (4.7) per 1000 for community bookings; and 10.2 (14.4) per 1000 for women transferred to consultant care. CONCLUSION--Antenatal care of low risk pregnant women may safely be provided by their general practitioner and midwife
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