4,000 sign petition backing baby unit

By James HoreAN MP has received a petition signed by 4,000 people demanding their town's maternity unit is reopened.It was organised by the Labour Party in Harwich after the maternity unit at the town's hospital was closed in September.

By James Hore

AN MP has received a petition signed by 4,000 people demanding their town's maternity unit is reopened.

It was organised by the Labour Party in Harwich after the maternity unit at the town's hospital was closed in September.

The East Anglian Daily Times launched a Save Our Baby Unit campaign after Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust decided to move midwives from Harwich Hospital to cover staffing shortages at Colchester General Hospital.


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The trust has pledged the maternity unit will open by March 1, once staffing levels are sufficient, although it hoped to reinstate full services at an earlier date.

The petition, which demanded the trust should immediately reinstate all services and staff recruitment and retention should never jeopardise the maternity service in the future, was handed to Harwich MP, Ivan Henderson.

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John Ford, secretary of the Harwich Branch Labour Party, said: “We were only too pleased to make it possible for local residents to show their support in a sensible and constructive manner.

“We would like to thank all of the businesses and individuals who assisted us in collecting the 4,000 signatures.”

Mr Henderson added: “I am very grateful to the local Labour party for providing local residents with the opportunity to show how much the maternity unit means to them.

“I will pass on the petition to the chief executive of Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, Mike Pollard, at our next meeting to discuss progress on this issue.”

Although the trust cited staffing shortages in Colchester as the reason for the closure of the Harwich baby unit, a leaked letter last month caused outrage by suggesting it was in danger of shutting anyway on “clinical risk grounds”.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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