Three Sussex hospitals are among the top ten in the South East when it comes to looking after women giving birth.

New figures rank Eastbourne District General Hospital and Conquest Hospital in St Leonards joint third in a league of good hospitals. St Richard's at Chichester came sixth in the league out of 32.

Worthing Hospital was ranked equal 13th, the Royal Sussex County in Brighton 19th and Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath, 24th.

The figures were compiled by health publishers Dr Foster for the annual Good Birth Guide.

The guide tests hospitals against indicators including the number of births per midwife, the percentage of Caesarean births, the number of epidurals given and the number of home births.

Women in the Brighton and Hove area were most likely to give birth at home. Eight per cent of the Royal Sussex's babies had a home birth, six points above the national average and the second highest in the country.

There are about 27 births per midwife at both Eastbourne and Conquest hospitals, which compares well to the national average of 32.

St Richards had 30 births per midwife, Worthing 35, the Royal Sussex 37 and the Princess Royal 40.

Eastbourne hospital spokesman Janine Bell said: "We are very pleased with the results of the survey. It was very thoroughly carried out and a lot of details were taken.

"We are also pleased to see that we have been ranked equally with Conquest. We are considering a merger between the hospitals so it is good to see we are complementing each other in our performance."

All six hospitals carry out more Caesareans than the ten to 15 per cent the World Health Organisation says is the most that can be justified on medical grounds in a developed country.

Princess Royal was one of the lower performing hospitals and had more births per midwife than any other in the county.

A spokesman said: "We have had problems in the past with recruitment and have launched a number of initiatives working to improve on that which are beginning to have an effect."