A council insists it will continue to support Braintree Community Hospital after calls for it to take a more proactive role.

Several patients have expressed concerns about the future of the Chadwick Drive hospital since Serco announced it wanted to cut short its contract with Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to run the hospital by three months, to December 2014.

It said it expected to post large financial losses and claimed referral levels had not improved as hoped.

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.

In a written question to Braintree Council, councillor Celia Shute asked: “Shouldn't Braintree Council act as a champion of the people and defend the services currently provided by Braintree Community Hospital?”

In response, councillor Jo Beavis, cabinet member for people and participation, said: “The council has supported Braintree Community Hospital since its inception and will continue to do so.

“The council has recently met with the Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (MECCG), who commission the services provided at the hospital.

"It has been confirmed that the current contract is ending early and the MECCG is working now to put in place new management arrangements with the aim of making the hospital a more vibrant local facility, providing the right and appropriate services to local people.

“It is also recognised that this relies on local doctors referring patients to the hospital and local people using and supporting it.”