EXTRA midwives have been recruited at Basingstoke hospital to help deliver a Government policy of one-to-one care as the borough's birth-rate booms.

The hospital, in Aldermaston Road, will beef up its midwifery team by 20 to meet the Department of Health's target for more personal care.

An escalating birth-rate - which has risen by more than 25 per cent in four years - also requires more midwives.

The new appointments, 10 of whom start work next week, will bring the midwifery team up to 105. The remaining new midwives will take up their posts within the next couple of months.

Marion Smith, maternal and child health manager, said: "It will enable us to continue to build on women-centred care while supporting families in their choices during pregnancy and childbirth, including homebirth.

"This means we can increasingly offer women and babies in the region the high quality service they really want."

Hospital chiefs say birth-rates are increasing in the borough because of new houses, more immigrants and increasing numbers of mums over 40.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has expressed concern over a shortage of midwives in the region But Judy Slessar, regional (south central) officer for the RCM, said Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Foun-dation Trust had avoided any problems by successfully recruiting.

She added: "The situation there should improve."