According to recent research published in The Lancet, deaths during childbirth in London have doubled in the last five years - with London having twice the mortality rate as the rest of the UK.

More than 100 mothers have died during childbirth in London since 2005, exposing a crisis in maternity care in the capital, a crisis that has often been highlighted by the Royal College of Midwives.

According to researchers a rise in older mothers, increasing obesity, fertility treatment, social deprivation and high proportions of ethnic minorities are factors in the sharp rise in childbirth related deaths. Although these factors are present throughout the UK they are at their highest in the capital.

Births in London have increased by 27% in the last decade from 106,000 in 2001 to 134,000 in 2011, but the numbers of midwives and doctors have not increased at the same pace.

In a period spanning 18 months there were 34 maternal deaths in London - of those, 26 involved ‘avoidable factors’ and 16 cases occurred after consultants failed to supervise junior doctors or junior doctors failed to recognise their limits, according to NHS research.

42 women died during pregnancy, childbirth or in the aftermath of a miscarriage or an abortion in the capital between January 2009 and June 2010. 17 deaths were classed as a direct result of pregnancy, 21 deaths were classed as an indirect result of pregnancy (the pregnancy aggravated an underlying health issue) and two were coincidental.

Last year a report by the CMACE (Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries) raised concern that doctors were failing to identify and treat health conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes and asthma in pregnant women.

Gwen Kirby-Dent, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Clinical Negligence Unit said: “Urgent attention needs to be paid to these spiralling death rates in the UK but particularly in the capital. If births are increasing, then the number of midwives and doctors needs to increase to accommodate demand, to ensure the wellbeing of both mother and baby and as the RCM has made clear this simply isn't happening.”