A Sussex hospital has one of the busiest maternity units in the UK.

A book published today by medical research group Dr Foster shows there are 1.2 births per bed, per day at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

The hospital is one of 21 to record more than one birth per bed, with the UK average at 0.76 births per day.

About eight per cent of women in Brighton and Hove opt for home births, compared with a UK average of six per cent.

The book says staff at the 52-bed unit provide good continuity of care, aiming to be responsive to each woman's needs. The book says the high home birth rate indicates this.

The book, called The Dr Foster Good Birth Guide, gives details of all the maternity units in the UK and which ones are busier than others.

The book also looks at staffing levels, home birth levels, Caesareans, pain relief and screening.

Roger Taylor, from Dr Foster, said: "The research reveals an unexpectedly high degree of variation in the number of births per bed in maternity units.

"This is not to say there is a difference in care but there will be some units which are operating with substantial overcrowding.

"Mothers have a right to consistent standards wherever they live."