Irate pensioners are sending out a call to arms as they plan a protest over the alleged “scandal” at Braintree Community Hospital.

The radical decision by members of Braintree Pensioners Action Group comes after Serco, which has managed the hospital in Chadwick Drive since 2011, last month*DEC* revealed its intention to cut short its contract with Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) by three months, to December 2014.

Serco claimed referral levels had not improved as hoped, while Chris Green, chairman of the Friends of Braintree Community Hospital, said there simply weren’t enough patients coming through the door and questioned whether the trend could be reversed.

But since then, a number of residents have come forward to claim health bosses have referred them elsewhere, despite their treatment or procedures supposedly being available in Braintree.

Braintree Pensioners Action Group member Don Challen, who is orchestrating the protest, said: "This is a community hospital for the people of Braintree.

“It was set up for the people of this town, which is expanding, and we need it and need someone to run it effectively.

“It’s really a case of do people in this town want their hospital? If they do, they’ve got to do something about it.”

A spokesman for the Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The CCG’s priority is to ensure that patients can still access effective services at Braintree Community Hospital.

“Following Serco's decision to exit its contract early, the CCG is exploring how it can work closely with Serco to ensure minimum disruption to patients.”

He added: “The process by which patients choose where to receive healthcare procedures remains the same.

“Patients are referred by their GP to a Central Referral Service (CRS), which offers patients all the treatment and procedure options available to them; it is then for the patient to decide."