MP attacks midwive decision in Harwich

AN ESSEX MP has condemned the decision to temporarily reduce the number of midwives at Harwich Hospital because of a shortage of maternity staff at Colchester.

AN ESSEX MP has condemned the decision to temporarily reduce the number of midwives at Harwich Hospital because of a shortage of maternity staff at Colchester.

The move will mean pregnant women will not be able to give birth at the hospital and will instead have to travel to Colchester General Hospital or Clacton Hospital for deliveries.

Harwich Labour MP Ivan Henderson has written to Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust chief executive Mike Pollard to condemn the move and demand the reinstatement of full maternity services at Harwich immediately.

The maternity unit at Harwich will continue to provide ultrasounds, antenatal and postnatal care, and offer the services of a weekly consultant.


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Mr Henderson has also contacted Paul Unsworth, chief executive of Tendring Primary Care Trust and the Secretary of State for Health John Reid.

Mr Henderson said: "While I am being assured that this is only a short term difficulty I do not believe it should have occurred in the first pace.

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"I want the situation rectified immediately and an investigation into why it occurred so that steps can be taken to ensure Harwich's maternity unit is not placed in this situation again."

A spokesman for Essex Rivers Heathcare Trust said: "The one at Harwich is a small unit in which each year there are about 120 to 130 births. At Colchester General Hospital there are about 3,300 births each year which is obviously considerably more.

"The reason we are bringing midwives from that unit to Colchester is because at Colchester there is a shortage of staff and we need to boost staff to cover our main unit where the majority of births are.

"If the number of midwives at Colchester diminish much further we will get to dangerous levels. We do apologise for it and we have not taken the decision lightly."

The spokesman said there were a significant number of midwife vacancies at Colchester due to a number of people retiring and some people moving on to other jobs.

He said the trust was working to boost recruitment at the hospital and added it hoped deliveries would be able to take place again at Harwich as soon as possible.

Mr Jonathan Evans-Jones, lead obstetrician and chair of the obstetrics division at Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust, said: "The obstetrics division fully supports the emergency measures authorised by the head of midwifery.

"We share the anxieties about staffing levels at Colchester and endorse all necessary measures,  including the temporary reduction of maternity services at Harwich Hospital, in order to maintain safe staffing levels at the main unit.

"Although this is an acute problem locally, we also recognise that the local situation reflects the nationwide shortage of midwives."

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