St Mary?s hospital has one of the worst maternity units in the country. A recent study by the Healthcare Commission has placed the hospital, which is run by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, as 18th out of the 27 NHS trusts in the London area. London has the highest number of ?least well performing? maternity services out of the ten strategic health authority units over England. A spokeswoman for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: "This is a wake-up call to London's maternity services to improve their responsiveness to patient needs and expectations.?
The fall in maternity care in London has been blamed on the government for cutting money to maternity services in real terms, and an increase in the birth rate in the capital. The health secretary, Alan Johnson, has announced an extra £122m annual funding for maternity services over the next three years, but the Royal College of Midwifes said that the government was ?playing catch-up?. The budget was cut by £55m last year, and it is estimated that the country needs 5,000 extra midwives.
In the meantime, St Mary's hospital will soon be opening a new, midwife-led birth centre giving women with uncomplicated pregnancies more choice about how they deliver their babies. It is looking to maintain its position as caring for some of the most complex maternity cases, referred to from all over the UK.