Essex

Protests over maternity service cuts in Harwich and Clacton

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Media captionCampaigners are worried the maternity unit closures could be permanent

Two protest marches against the decision to shut birthing units in Harwich and Clacton have been held over the weekend.

The Colchester Hospital Trust, which runs the centres, said it needed to transfer the staff to Colchester because of a shortage of midwives.

One protest march took place at 10:00 BST, organised by the Labour Party.

While another march took place on Saturday, organised by the Conservative Party.

Both protest marches ended at Clacton Hospital.

'People feel angry'

Tim Young, Labour's parliamentary candidate for Clacton, said, "The closure of our maternity units has caused a great deal of concern and anger across the community."

Conservative MP for Clacton Douglas Carswell said: "The decision to shut our local maternity unit ahead of consultation is completely wrong. Local people have a right to feel angry."

Image caption The Colchester Hospital Trust's board of directors will review its decision on maternity services in Clacton when it meets on 12 June

Colchester Hospital Trust said in a statement: "Ante-natal and post-natal care continues to be provided seven days a week at both the Clacton and Harwich units, but the temporary change made in March does mean that women are no longer giving birth there.

"Pregnant women who had opted to give birth at those units, which are both for low-risk women, are given a choice of a home birth or the midwifery-led unit at Colchester General Hospital.

"When the trust made the temporary change last month, it apologised to the small number of women and families who would be affected.

"The trust's board of directors will review its decision when it meets on 12 June."

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