THE range of maternity services across East Lancashire is now the ‘envy’ of many other hospitals, according to health boss Jim Birrell.

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust was recently named the ‘Maternity Service of the Year’ at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) annual awards, after being praised for supporting staff, promoting ‘normal births’ and reducing caesarean section rates.

The controversial closure of Blackburn’s doctor-led maternity unit in 2010 was cited as a key reason for improved care, as the trust has been able to focus specialist care at Burnley General Hospital, with support from three midwife-led units.

Mr Birrell, the trust’s interim chief executive, said: “The range of choice in maternity services provided by the reconfiguration is the envy of many, and now nationally acclaimed.”