Baby unit may reopen in three months

By James HoreA HEALTH boss who took the “painful” decision to close a town's maternity unit has pledged it may reopen in three months.Mike Pollard, chief executive of Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, was speaking after a meeting yesterday to thrash out a deal to ensure the closed ward at Harwich Hospital would reopen as soon as possible.

By James Hore

A HEALTH boss who took the “painful” decision to close a town's maternity unit has pledged it may reopen in three months.

Mike Pollard, chief executive of Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust, was speaking after a meeting yesterday to thrash out a deal to ensure the closed ward at Harwich Hospital would reopen as soon as possible.

The maternity unit was closed earlier this month when midwives from Harwich Hospital were sent to cover staff shortages at Colchester General Hospital.


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The East Anglian Daily Times then launched a Save Our Baby Unit campaign to press health bosses to reopen the maternity unit as soon as possible.

Mr Pollard said: “It was a painful decision to make but we have got to provide a level of service to 340,000 people across north-east Essex.”

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He added the trust had launched an employment drive to recruit more midwives, with a closing date of October 10 for applications.

“If we get a good response to the recruitment campaign, then we think we can open the unit in the first week of January 2004,” pledged Mr Pollard.

But he added there would have to be a contingency plan if the recruitment drive was not as successful as the trust hoped.

Vickie Williams, of Tendring Health Action Group, which has criticised the closure, said it had been a positive meeting.

“Harwich should never have been put in this position in the first place but I believe Mike Pollard is committed to restoring the service,” she added.

“This has been a productive meeting and we are hoping the service will be restored as soon as possible.”

Hundreds of EADT readers have already signed their names in support of our campaign, demanding the reinstatement of the maternity unit.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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