Mums had over petition to save baby unit

By Craig RobinsonMOTHERS worried about the future of a town's maternity unit have handed a petition signed by more than 1,500 people to their MP. Campaigners met Braintree MP Alan Hurst yesterday to voice their concerns over the future of the baby unit at the town's William Julien Courtauld Hospital.

By Craig Robinson

MOTHERS worried about the future of a town's maternity unit have handed a petition signed by more than 1,500 people to their MP.

Campaigners met Braintree MP Alan Hurst yesterday to voice their concerns over the future of the baby unit at the town's William Julien Courtauld Hospital.

They presented the Labour MP with the petition - which called for post-natal care to be provided again at the hospital - and he later handed it over to the Mid Essex Hospitals Trust, which runs the Braintree maternity unit.


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The 14-bed baby unit closed in October last year after high levels of sickness caused staff shortages among midwives, but was reopened in November for “low-risk” deliveries.

However, there is no post-natal care provided at the site, with most mothers sent home six hours after giving birth.

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Any complicated pregnancies are also sent 15 miles away to St John's Hospital in Chelmsford.

Juliet Walton, who handed over the petition, said: “The trust say that the unit is open, but what they fail to mention is that it is only open nine to five, Monday to Friday.

“The problem is compounded by the fact that the hospital is shut quite frequently. It is no good if in six months' time the unit will be shut with no explanation.”

Mr Hurst added: “It is a very worthwhile cause. The limited services were only supposed to be temporary, but now one senses that there is an intention for them to continue.

“I would like the health trust to actively seek to recruit more midwives so that we can see a return to the services that were provided before.”

Jane Griffiths, director of health care for the Witham, Braintree and Halstead Care Trust, which provides the maternity services at the hospital, said: “The mothers are anxious that the unit might close, but that will not happen, we are committed to keeping it open.

“At the moment most midwives are based at St John's because that is where the majority of births take place.

“If we could bring more births across to the unit at Braintree, more midwives would follow. It is not about recruiting more, but moving the ones we have.”

The trust has produced an information leaflet trying to persuade more mothers to give birth at the Braintree unit and will be staging an open day in the summer.

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