The government's £100m cash boost to upgrade the country's maternity services has been built on a policy vacuum, the NHS Confederation has claimed.

In a speech to the Royal College of Midwives' annual conference last week, health secretary Alan Milburn outlined plans to improve equipment and facilities at England's 250 maternity units.

Trusts will be urged to put together an investment plan and bid for a lump of the money.

But Nigel Edwards, policy director at the NHS Confederation, told HSJ: 'We need a strategic look at maternity services. There are a number of ideas about the way they should be run - from the creation of heavily centralised maternity units at one end to saying that things are pretty much working well already. At the moment, money is handed out and spent and then discussions take place afterwards on how the service should be organised. That is not a good approach to policy-making.'