Maternity unit battle victory

CAMPAIGNERS who look to have won their battle for a maternity ward to be open 24 hours a day have said they will only celebrate when the changes are in place.

CAMPAIGNERS who look to have won their battle for a maternity ward to be open 24 hours a day have said they will only celebrate when the changes are in place.

Staff shortages at the baby unit of the William Julian Courtauld Hospital in Braintree led to the service being reduced to between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Since October 2003, any women going into labour outside those times have been expected to call a midwife to open the unit or head to an alternative hospital.

Campaigners took to the streets in protest, with Braintree MP Alan Hurst backing the fight, and they were finally promised an independent review into maternity services.


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That review has now recommended 24-hour care should be provided at the hospital with 28 new midwives and 15 care assistants to be employed.

However, it is envisaged the changes will not be in place for a number of months because of the time it could take to recruit new staff.

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Ann Fuller, who campaigned against the reduction in hours, said she would only celebrate once the changes take place.

“High risk births will still take place at St John's Hospital, Chelmsford, but realistically these changes will take place in months rather than weeks.

“We are awaiting to see if it does open 24 hours as it has been closed for such a long time, we know they have made lots of promises and we are just waiting to see if it comes off.

“The midwives situation is quite poor as they need so many staff and hopefully they will want to work in the birthing unit – this is not going to happen overnight,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust said: “We have the intention of opening the low-risk birthing centre for 24 hours in the near future.

“It is dependent on additional staff, we have had the maternity services review undertaken and the funding from that is going to be put in place over the next two to three years.”

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