The NHS now has a record number of midwives in place, and more than ever in training, health secretary Andrew Lansley has claimed.

There will also be no reduction in midwifery training places during 2011/12.

Andrew Lansley said: "As part of our plan to modernise the NHS, we are committed to giving mothers the support and care they need throughout their pregnancy, birth and after birth.

"So in addition to our plans to increase the number of health visitors by 4,200, we are sustaining the record number of midwives in training this year, and in the next year. This will help mothers get the care they want.

"Already since May 2010, the number of midwives has increased by 296. And last year there were a record 2,493 midwives in training. For 2011-12, there will be a total of 2,490 planned places available.

"We will continue to work with the Royal College of Midwives to make sure we have an appropriately resourced and skilled maternity workforce based on the most up-to-date evidence."

Although the announcement was broadly welcomed by the Royal College of Midwives, John Skewes, director of employment relations and development, warned that more midwives were still needed. He said: "This is a small piece of good news and supports the fulfillment of the pledge on student midwives training places made by the Secretary of State.

 "It will not however be enough to support the figure of 4,700 extra midwives that we believe are needed in England to deliver safe, high quality maternity care and, to enable midwives to cope with the historically high birthrate and increasing demands on maternity services. It is also imperative that the midwives being trained have jobs to go in the NHS when they qualify.

"The figures for 2011/12 are planned numbers and we will be monitoring them to ensure that Strategic Health Authorities - and the Government -  come through on these plans and deliver the number of training places promised."