The NHS receives much criticism from the media despite the good work that it does, and the National Childbirth Trust thought it was time to draw attention to excellence in midwifery services.

South Devon Healthcare trust under the leadership of its head of midwifery, Lynne Leyshon, has a policy of team midwifery, set up in 1993.

Women are given an even-handed choice of place of birth. They are visited at home as soon as they call to say they think they are in labour.

If the midwife assessment suggests there is no need to go to hospital, the woman can choose to remain at home.

As a result, the home birth rate, at above 20 per cent, matches national survey figures that suggest up to 22 per cent of women want a home birth.

And at Greenwich, on average 87 per cent of women know the midwife who delivers their baby.

Breastfeeding rates are high, with 60 per cent breastfeeding on discharge from hospital.

Both trusts are benefiting from, for example, the health gain resulting from more breastfeeding, better retention of midwives and reduced costs due to fewer women going to hospital when they are not in labour.

In these financially tough times it is good to see two trusts showing that excellent maternity care is possible.

Belinda Phipps Chief executive