Town's baby unit reopens at last

By James HoreEXPECTANT mothers can now give birth again at a town's maternity unit after its delivery rooms were finally reopened.Harwich Hospital's baby unit was reopened yesterday for births - 167 days after its midwives were moved to Colchester General Hospital following a shortage of midwives there.

By James Hore

EXPECTANT mothers can now give birth again at a town's maternity unit after its delivery rooms were finally reopened.

Harwich Hospital's baby unit was reopened yesterday for births - 167 days after its midwives were moved to Colchester General Hospital following a shortage of midwives there.

Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust insisted the move would only be temporary, but residents campaigned to make the Harwich Hospital unit was fully reopened.


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The East Anglian Daily Times also launched the Save Our Baby Unit campaign, demanding the reinstatement of all maternity services at Harwich Hospital.

The trust's chief executive, Mike Pollard, apologised for the inconvenience caused by September's closure.

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He said: “Very soon after we reluctantly closed the unit for deliveries, I stated that it would reopen fully from March 1 at the latest­ or earlier depending on the recruitment of midwives. The trust has been true to its word.”

Mr Pollard also voiced his confidence in the competence in the Harwich midwives, following the uproar among staff in October over a letter he wrote to Bernard Jenkin, the North Essex MP, in which he claimed the baby unit had been in danger of closing anyway on “clinical risk grounds”.

He said yesterday: “On the occasion of the full reopening of the unit, I would like to express my full confidence and that of the trust in the capabilities and competence of all the midwives working in Harwich.

“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.”

The town's MP, Ivan Henderson, added: “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.”

Since September 15, women from Harwich who wanted to give birth in hospital had the option of going to the maternity units at either Clacton or Colchester General Hospitals.

All other services at the Harwich unit - which include consultant-led clinics and ultra-sound scanning - continued as normal. It has also been open for ante-natal and post-natal advice on a drop-in basis.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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