The Department of Health has launched an online comparison tool for expectant parents to compare and rate maternity services in England.

The tool, available on NHS Choices, provides information on every maternity service and covers the service offered, patients’ comments, opening times and additional facilities.

The tool also includes maternity survey data from the Care Quality Commission, that was launched this week.

The DH said patient comments would include how highly commenters would recommend the service, how well patients were treated by staff, and whether they felt involved in decisions about their care.

Comments will be monitored and the DH said any abuse, including naming of staff, would not be posted.

Public health minister Anne Milton said expectant parents needed enough information to make the right choices for themselves and the NHS should make sure patients have some way of finding out about the services it provides.

She added: “Businesses and companies are increasingly using the internet to invite people to feedback their experiences and ideas.

"The good companies then respond to those ideas to improve how they work. NHS organisations should be doing this too.”

Dr Anthony Falconer, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “The RCOG welcomes the launch of the new comparison service and feedback on maternity services. 

"It believes that these tools will make it easier for expectant women and their families to make decisions about their birth.”

The DH said NHS Choices received an average of 7m hits a month with 130,000 searches for maternity services.