Tendring: Councillors vow to fight for maternity services


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Councillors in Tendring have pledged to fight for the best possible maternity services for people across the district.

At a meeting on Tuesday night they agreed to lobby at every level to see maternity units at both Clacton and Harwich retained and improved.

The move comes after the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) published a report earlier this year into a possible reorganisation of maternity services in north Essex.

The report, submitted by the CCG’s children’s and maternity commissioner Helen Kershaw, put forward a number of options which recommend either the midwife centre at Harwich’s Fryatt Hospital be closed or becomes a birthing centre on reduced opening hours.

There were also proposals to reorganise maternity services in Clacton.

At the time the CCG insisted no decisions had been taken and that the options for consultation, expected to start later this year, have yet to be finalised.

Councillors at Tendring said they want to be sure that the authorities “get their message loud and clear”.

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They agreed a motion which states: “The council commits to lobby at all levels and to use its response to the forthcoming consultation about Clacton and Harwich Maternity Units to retain and improve the existing local maternity services that deliver the best patient choice and safety for Tendring families.”

The move was supported by all political groups at Tendring District following a lengthy debate to ensure that they got the wording exactly right.

Tendring District Council (TDC) leader Peter Halliday said it was vital that the motion had the full support of the council.

“We were prepared to stay there as long as it took to get the strongest and clearest message across to health bosses about exactly what TDC’s stance is over this crucial issue,” he said.

“I was pleased that all sides had an input into the process and that we came up with a statement that everyone could agree with and give it their full backing.”

In July a spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust (CHUFT) said there was an argument for saying midwifery staff at Harwich could be made better use of if they went out into the community rather than remaining full-time at the maternity unit.

He said: “We believe some members of the public think that having skilled staff 24/7 at a unit where on average one baby is born about every three days is not the most effective use of limited NHS resources.”

“If we did not need to staff the unit round-the-clock, the midwives would be able to care for women in labour when needed and also provide antenatal and postnatal care more locally to where the women live.”

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