MATERNITY units in Harwich and Clacton will be reopened 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.

But at a meeting today Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust board decided the birthing units would be re-opened as birthing centres.

This means mothers will be able to phone midwives when they go into labour and the midwife will then meet them at the unit.