MATERNITY units in Harwich and Clacton could be re-opened as “on-demand” birthing centres by next month.

The wards at the coastal hospitals were closed for births in a shock move earlier this year due to staff shortages in Colchester.

It has now been recommended to the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust that the birthing units be re-opened as “on demand” birthing centres.

The trust will decide on Thursday whether to agree with this proposal and work out a time frame.

Other options in the board paper suggest keeping the units shut or reopening them on a 24/7 basis.

The board paper said: “During this time CHUFT would provide funding for and recruit an additional 5.6 whole time equivalent midwives to its hospital based delivery services as well as and introduce a new community midwifery model of care.

“Both actions would improve and has improved midwife staffing at Colchester General Hospital.”

A birthing centre would see expectant mums phone midwives when they go into labour and the midwife will meet them at the unit. After giving birth if all is well they will be sent home.

Last week an external review to assess the safety and quality of maternity services delivered by Colchester Hospital was carried out.

Initial findings, which will be relayed to the board, said the review team highlighted the “dedicated, passionate and a professional workforce”.

The review team`s report is due on June 24 when a list of recommendations will be made.

Initial feedback highlighted three key areas which need to be looked at including the relationship with the CCG, midwife units and leadership structure.

The meeting will take place in Training Rooms South, near the Main Entrance of Colchester General Hospital, beginning at 1pm.