EAST Lancashire's hospitals have bucked the national trend and perform well in maternity care, a Healthcare Commission review said.

Data from the hospital on its operating practices, as well as women's views on the service they had received, were surveyed in summer.

And the findings published yesterday showed that Royal Blackburn Hospital and Burnley General Hospital were performing well in all aspects of maternity care.

The East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the two sites, was surveyed as part of a national review of maternity services.

It received an overall score of "good", with top marks in standards of ante-natal monitoring, delivery outcomes, standards of post-natal care, client access to information, effective engagement and appropriate facilities.

But it was told to make improvements in staff training, services for people with additional needs, data recording and antenatal class quality.

Carol Boothman, service manager of women's health at the trust, said: "We have performed very well but the areas in which we need to improve are mainly about the way we are recording things.

"It was a struggle to get all the information together so quickly, and we have fallen down in some areas simply because of our data recording.

"Also, women's opinions of the service, where we have had lower scores were given the same score value as the actual data, which makes a difference because people are more likely to respond to a survey if they have a complaint."

Nationally, many trusts' mat-ernity services were criticised by the Healthcare Commission.

Four in 10 ultrasound scans carried out by NHS trusts fail to fully check for abnormalities in unborn babies, according to the commission.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) guidelines recommend 11 checks to be performed during ultrasound scans.

These include studying the baby's heart function, length of spine, counting bones in the arms and legs and looking at head shape and size.

The scans should also examine the development of the baby's face and lips. Yet the report found that just 61 per cent of scans performed by trusts included all 11 checks.

The study also suggested a link between low staffing levels on maternity wards and poor performance by units.

On average, units have 31 midwives per 1,000 deliveries but nine trusts had only 26 midwives per 1,000 deliveries or fewer.

In response to the survey, which highlighted big differences in care quality across the country, health secretary Alan Johnson announced extra funding for maternity services that will increase over the next three years to reach an additional £122m annually.

He said: "I want to see the NHS delivering a gold standard of maternity services."