HARWICH Maternity Unit has been closed until further notice owing to a desperate shortage of midwives.

Health chiefs made the shock decision on Monday to close both Harwich and Clacton maternity units temporarily so staff can cover in Colchester.

Women’s and children’s services chief Amanda Hallums said: “The board took this decision because of concerns about the low number of midwives at Colchester General Hospital in relation to the high number of births there.”

Labour councillor for Harwich Ivan Henderson, who has been campaigning to keep the centres open after it emerged they were under threat last year, now says the service is in “crisis”.