§ 59. Mr. Latham
To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will make a statement on the Government's policy regarding rural maternity units.
§ Mr. Mellor
The Government's principal objective in maternity and neonatal care is to improve the services, and in consequence ensure the safety of mothers and their babies. The second report of the maternity services advisory committee (MSAC), which we have commended to health authorities, although recognising that a woman should have a choice of where her baby is to be born, encourages delivery in a maternity unit where emergency facilities are readily available. It is for health authorities to determine the level and pattern of services, taking into account their detailed knowledge of the needs of local communities.