A cost-comparison of midwife-led compared with consultant-led maternity care in Ireland (the MidU study)

Christopher Kenny, Declan Devane, Charles Normand, Mike Clarke, Aoife Howard, Cecily Begley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: to compare the cost of maternity care between two midwife-led units, and their linked consultant-led units, following a large randomised trial in Ireland. Design: ethical approval was received for this unblinded, pragmatic randomised trial (MidU) funded by the Health Service Executive (Dublin North-East, Ireland), conducted 2004-2009. A comparison of costs analysis was conducted on the outcomes from the trial. Setting: two maternity units in Ireland, with 'alongside' midwife-led units. Participants: all women without risk factors for labour and birth who booked at the two maternity units before 24 weeks' gestation were assessed for inclusion. Consenting women (n=1653) were centrally randomised on a 2:1 ratio (1101:552) to midwife-led or consultant-led care. Interventions: women randomised to consultant-led care received standard care. Women randomised to the midwife-led arm received midwife-led care provided by a small group of midwives in two units, situated 'alongside' the consultant-led units, throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatal. Measurements: mean difference in clinician salaries, cost of care based on managers' data, known costs of postnatal bed days and costs of key interventions were measured. Findings: the average cost of caring for a woman allocated to the midwife-led units was €2598, compared to €2780 in the consultant-led units (average difference €182 per woman, analysed by 'intention to treat'). Key conclusions and implications for practice: care in these two midwife-led units costs less than care provided by the consultant-led units. Given the clinical findings, which showed that care provided in the midwife-led units is as safe as that in the consultant-led units and results in less intervention, more midwife-led units should be incorporated into maternity care in Ireland so that scarce resources can be used more effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1032-1038
Number of pages7
Issue number11
Early online date2 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Cost-
  • Economic analysis
  • Midwife-led care
  • Normal birth
  • Randomised trial


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