HOSPITAL bosses have announced the shock closure of maternity services at Clacton Hospital.

The unit was closed at 5pm last night to mums expecting to give birth there.

The centre will remain open for ante and postnatal services.

The Fryatt Hospital in Harwich is also affected.

NHS bosses say the closure is temporary and will be reviewed in June.

Low-risk mums-to-be who had wanted to give birth at the Clacton or Harwich units will be given the choice of a home birth or going to Colchester General.

Trust director Amanda Hallums apologised to families who are affected.

She said there weren't enough midwives for the high number of births taking place at Colchester General, while Clacton and Harwich maternity units were under-used.

"We need to place our resources where the need is greater," she said.

“We have to regularly take midwives from the Clacton and Harwich units to help provide cover at Colchester, and the board took the view that this position was no longer sustainable."

Labour councillor Ivan Henderson, who has campaigned against cuts, said the service was in "crisis".

"Iam furious," he said.

Full story and reaction in this Thursday's Clacton, Frinton and Walton Gazette.

Have you been affected by the cuts? Call the newsroom on 01255 254217.