Harwich/Clacton: People urged to join maternity unit demonstration

Opening of the new Hospital at Harwich.
PCT Chairman Brian Davis and Hospital Matr

Essex EADT News Opening of the new Hospital at Harwich. PCT Chairman Brian Davis and Hospital Matron Jay Douglas recieve the keys from Mike Andrews from Realise Health Ltd. Photograph James Fletcher 13/12/05

An 11th-hour appeal has been made for demonstrators to join a protest march.

Harwich councillor Ivan Henderson has organised a march this morning in support of the maternity unit at the town’s Fryatt Hospital over fears it may close.

Demonstrators meet at Cliff Park, off Main Road, Dovercourt, at 10am today for a march to the hospital.

Colchester Hospital University Foundation NHS Trust (CHUFT) which runs the hospital has temporarily closed the unit, and one at Clacton District Hospital, due to a shortage of midwives at Colchester General Hospital.

The short-term closure, which does not affect ante- or post-natal services, allows staff to be focused at the main site with expectant mums in Tendring forced to travel to Colchester during the interim period to give birth.

But campaigners fear the move is a stepping stone towards permanent closure of the units, a proposal which was made by the health trust last year but shelved after opposition. Clacton councillors Danny Mayzes and Chris Griffiths have urged residents from their town to join today’s march in a call to arms.

Mr Mayzes said: “Just because this is taking place in Harwich, I still expect people to turn up from Clacton and indeed all over Tendring to show we ‘Support Our Baby Services’.

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“This is just the first of many events which will place pressure on CHUFT to review their decision - Mr Griffiths and I hope to plan a similar march in Clacton.”

In a statement the trust apologised to affected families and said the decision, based on effective use of resources, was set to be reviewed on June 12.

A permanent change would legally need a public consultation.

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