St Peter’s Hospital protest in Maldon ahead of inpatient closures

Parents and residents have protested against the closure of inpatient services at a community hospital.

The birthing unit and stroke rehabilitation beds at St Peter’s Hospital in Maldon, in Essex, closed on Monday for the autumn and winter period.

Permanently closing the hospital will be one of the options on the table at a consultation next year.

The NHS said “quality of care” was at the “heart” of decision-making.

Mother Hayley Edwards was one of the parents outside the hospital on Sunday and spoke to BBC Essex.

“The atmosphere was amazing – everyone was there for the same reason, just to share our love for the maternity unit,” said Ms Edwards, 38, an aquanatal teacher from Witham, who gave birth at the unit in November last year.

“So many of us are really concerned about this apparent consultation that is going to take place.”

The Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust (MSEFT) said inpatient services at St Peter’s would be relocated elsewhere.

The trust previously said staff shortages at Maldon meant it could not provide the necessary quality of care.

However, the relocation means expectant parents must drive an extra 16 miles (26km) to the birthing unit in Braintree or 15 miles (24km) to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford to give birth.

An extra 25 beds will be available for stroke rehabilitation at Brentwood Community Hospital, 22 miles away (35km) and 14 available at Cumberlege Intermediate Care Centre in Rochford, 19 miles away (31km).

The trust has promised a public consultation in 2024 to decide St Peter’s long term future.

The hospital will remain open through the autumn and winter for outpatients, such as midwifery and diagnostic appointments.

“Any change can be unsettling and we are warmed by the strength of feeling for the care provided at St Peter’s,” said Yvonne Blucher, managing director for women’s and children’s services at MSEFT.

“They [the changes] were made with safety and quality of care at the heart of the decision-making process, including our capacity to meet demand during the winter.”

She added: “Midwives will work with people to help them choose what’s best for them and baby.”

About six births per month take place at St Peter’s, the trust estimates.

The building is a former Victorian workhouse believed to date back to 1873.

The first floor – where inpatient beds are located – has experienced a leaking roof, weak flooring and broken lifts in recent years.


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