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Essex: Tendring maternity unit review suggests ‘on demand’ opening would be more efficient

A generic photo of a pregnant woman having her blood pressure checked by her doctor.PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.

A generic photo of a pregnant woman having her blood pressure checked by her doctor.PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos.

Maternity units in Tendring look set to become open “on demand” permanently.

A review of the service, commissioned jointly by Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust (CHUFT) and the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (NEE CCG) has said the move will offer a more efficient and equal service.

The midwife-led units in Clacton and Harwich were temporarily closed in March to address a staff shortage at the Colchester centre.

A decision was made last month to re-open the coastal units but on an on-demand basis, where a mother calls a midwife who meets the parent at the centre and opens it up at whatever time of the day or night. The centres had previously been open on a 24/7 basis, where staff are always on site regardless of need.

The report states: “This is not a good use of resource as there have been a significant number of occasions when the coastal birthing units have been empty but still fully staffed. This is particularly relevant during the night when there may be no births and no other direct patient care being undertaken.”

However to make the change permanent would require a public consultation.

The on demand centres would still be open during the day, from 9am-5pm in Harwich and 8am-8pm in Clacton, for ante- and post-natal care and classes.

The report will be discussed at a CHUFT board of directors’ meeting on Thursday, from noon, before going to the NEE CCG board on July 29.

A CHUFT spokesman said the trust would not comment on the report before its board meeting on Thursday, but said a full public consultation would be held jointly with the NEE CCG later this year.

A spokesman for the NEE CCG said the group would also not comment, and added the options paper is a proposal for what might go out to public consultation, but that is subject to any views either the hospital board or the NEE CCG board may have.

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