A midwife who spent 42 years working for the NHS today claimed midwives in Colchester are being treated as "second-class citizens" - and accused Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust of "trying to gag" her.

Yvonne Taylor, 60, of Ladysmith Avenue, Bright- lingsea, has delivered hundreds of babies during four decades.

She said a recent grading system meant the team covering part of the Colchester area were banded a level lower than midwives covering other towns in Essex - and get paid less.

Mrs Taylor said when she wanted to add her comments to a press release about her retirement, the press release was withdrawn.

An Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust spokesman said: "At no point was Mrs Taylor gagged. It was due to the late notice."

The Trust's service manager for women's services, Debbie Mcallion, said the reason for the difference involved "different job descriptions" with staff "paid accordingly".