Five maternity services from all over the country received the top accolade at the Government's All Party Parliamentary Group on Maternity's (APPGM) Summer Awards Reception 2012.
The winners were announced at a special ceremony hosted by the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley MP.
Awards were presented in 5 categories:
- Best example of involvement of service users in the development of maternity services
- Multidisciplinary team of the year
- Most inclusive services for new fathers and mothers
- Best example of a service for women with complex medical needs in pregnancy
- Most marked improvement in services to address health inequalities or improve outcomes for mothers and babies.
Winners included the Early Intervention Service Midwifery team, Newham Hospital NHS Trust in the inclusive maternity service for new fathers and mothers' category, and the West London African Women's Service, Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust for their work with women experiencing complicated pregnancies as a result of genital mutilation.
Speaking at the awards, Andrew Lansley said: "I know as well as any other parent how life changing having a child can be so getting maternity services right is vital.
"We are committed to improving maternity services across the country. There are over 900 midwives in the NHS; and 5,000 midwifery students preparing to join the profession over the next few years. We are committed to giving mothers-to-be the best possible maternity care."
A number of services were also highly recommended, including the Gloucestershire Maternity Service, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. There, a team of 6 midwives has been working with women in the most deprived area of the county, helping to improve the wellbeing of mothers and babies.
The scheme helps about 300 women a year. Dawn Morrall, assistant director of midwifery and nursing at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said she was delighted with the award: "It's a real testament to the hard work of the midwives. It has achieved phenomenal results in improved outcomes.
"There have been reduced numbers of C-sections, an increase in normal births, higher rates of breast feeding and a reduction in smoking."