Joy as maternity unit reopens

MOTHERS can finally give birth at a town's maternity unit again after a six-month closure due to staff shortages.Midwives were transferred away from Harwich Maternity Unit in September to cover a staffing crisis at Colchester General Hospital.

By Annie Davidson

MOTHERS can finally give birth at a town's maternity unit again after a six-month closure due to staff shortages.

Midwives were transferred away from Harwich Maternity Unit in September to cover a staffing crisis at Colchester General Hospital.

Residents launched a campaign backed by the East Anglian Daily Times' Save Our Baby Unit petition.


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Now, after months of pressure, the unit will reopen at 9am today for mothers to give birth.

Ante-natal care and community midwifery had continued with a skeleton staff during the closure.

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Midwives at Harwich now hope to promote the unit for women from outside the area to come and give birth in a home from home environment.

Mary Piper-Kirtley said any woman who was classed as low risk and wanted to give birth in a midwife-led unit could contact Harwich for more details even if they lived outside the town.

She said: "We have got a lot to offer as a home from home environment where woman can give birth if they would rather not go to an obstetric unit. This would also lessen the burden on Colchester hospital.

"Anyone interested can contact us and we will show them round and sort out all the paperwork.

"At the end of the day, if they change their mind, we can take them up to Colchester."

Mrs Piper-Kirtley added: "We are delighted to be back at Harwich and back to our women. We also feel very grateful to our colleagues at Colchester who were very welcoming and warm towards us and gave us a lot of support."

Mike Pollard, Chief Executive of Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust, apologised for any inconvenience the closure had caused parents but re-iterated that it had always been a temporary measure.

"Essex Rivers Healthcare has always been totally committed to providing a full range of services at the unit and from the outset made it clear that women would be able to deliver there again as soon as possible," he said.

He added: "I would also like to thank the Harwich midwives and the health care assistants for the support they have given to their colleagues during the recent staff crisis in Colchester."

Harwich MP Ivan Henderson said: "From the petition in local shops through to my question in parliament, the short-term closure of the maternity unit was pursued at every level.

"I am very grateful to everyone who worked in a positive and constructive manner to bring this situation to a satisfactory conclusion and I am glad that our excellent local midwives can now continue to provide a first-class service in our local maternity unit."

Mr Pollard and Mr Henderson will visit the midwives today to celebrate the re-opening.

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