Baby unit will not reopen for two months

By Annie DavidsonEXPECTANT mothers from the Harwich area will have to wait another two months to give birth at the town's maternity unit.A shortage of midwives at Colchester General Hospital led to the unit being closed in September, although Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust assured residents it would reopen by March 1 at the latest.

By Annie Davidson

EXPECTANT mothers from the Harwich area will have to wait another two months to give birth at the town's maternity unit.

A shortage of midwives at Colchester General Hospital led to the unit being closed in September, although Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust assured residents it would reopen by March 1 at the latest.

Harwich midwives were transferred to work at the Colchester hospital to cover a shortage of midwives there.


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It had been hoped a recruitment campaign for midwives would see the Harwich Hospital maternity unit reopening tomorrow.

But the trust has confirmed that will not happen and the baby unit is now set to reopen on March 1.

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Pregnant women have continued to have ante-natal care at the maternity unit, based in Main Road in Dovercourt, but have had travel about 20 miles to Colchester to give birth.

A spokesman for Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust said yesterday: “The trust made a commitment to reopen the unit on a sustainable basis by March 1 and if possible, to have a sufficient number of midwives that it would seek to reopen before March 1, if at all possible.

“But this has not proved to be the case. The unit will reopen on March 1. This doesn't mean to say that the trust has stood still in that time.

“A successful recruitment campaign has made in-roads into recruitment of midwives and there are nine new midwives who have either started with the trust or will be starting early in the new year.

“We are still interviewing future applicants, but we are confident that we will be fulfilling the commitment to reopen Harwich maternity for in-patient maternity care on March 1.”

The spokesman said although the recruitment campaign had been successful, not all new staff had started immediately, which meant Harwich midwives were still needed at Colchester General Hospital.

The East Anglian Daily Times launched a Save Our Baby Unit campaign to protest at the trust's decision when the Harwich Hospital maternity unit closure was first announced.

Protesters also held a rally outside the hospital calling for the baby unit to be immediately reopened and a petition was launched amid fears the closure could be made permanent.

annie.davidson@eadt.co.uk

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