NHS hospitals put mothers and babies at increased risk

Almost half of NHS hospitals were forced to turn women in labour away last year because they were full, according to new figures that reveal the "shocking" state of NHS maternity services.

Patient groups said the capacity crisis was putting many mothers and babies at increased risk, by increasing anxiety and forcing them to travel further at a crucial time. Larger units were significantly more likely to have had to close their doors than smaller ones.

The Conservatives, who obtained the data under the Freedom of Information Act, claimed government plans to concentrate services in large units were misguided.

Half of maternity units turn women away (Daily Telegraph, 20 March 2008)