Anger at partial reopening of baby unit

By James HoreCAMPAIGNERS have said they are still not happy with the arrangements for delivering babies in their town, despite the reopening of a maternity unit.

By James Hore

CAMPAIGNERS have said they are still not happy with the arrangements for delivering babies in their town, despite the reopening of a maternity unit.

The William Julien Courtauld Hospital maternity unit in Braintree has been closed since the end of October after staff were hit with high levels of sickness.

But Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust, which runs the hospital, has decided the ward can safely be reopened “for low-risk” deliveries from Monday.


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However, there will still be no inpatient post-natal care at the site, so mums will be discharged home a few hours after giving birth.

It also means if there are any complications during the delivery, pregnant women will have to be transferred to the maternity unit at St John's Hospital in Chelmsford, about 15 miles away.

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If inpatient post-natal care is required, this will also have to be provided at St John's Hospital.

Trina Whittaker, of Muffets children's clothing store in Braintree, which organised a petition against the closure, said mothers were still not happy because the ward would be just a “birthing unit”.

She added: “It is still not very good because mothers will have to leave after about four hours. We had an expectant mother in here who is due in a few weeks and she cannot see the point of giving birth there.

“New mothers need to be reassured by midwives and then if they want any help with things like breast feeding, then that has to be available, but if they are getting kicked out it will be a problem.”

Ms Whittaker added the petition now had 400 signatures and would be continued.

Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust said any pregnant women who were expecting a low-risk delivery and who would like to give birth at the unit should telephone it when they went into labour as they would normally do.

Arrangements will then be made for them to give birth in Braintree.

A spokesman added: “The trust is happy to be able to provide this service for expectant mums in Braintree once again.

“It is not yet known when the inpatient post-natal care will be resumed. There are still a number of midwives on sick leave and it would be unsafe for the trust to provide this service at present. The situation is being regularly reviewed.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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