Patients in mid Essex will have to travel further for treatment after a plan to turn all purpose hospitals into specialised centres was approved.

The £118million “treat and transfer” approach will see Southend, Basildon and Broomfield Hospital retain their A&E departments but give up certain areas of care.

Patients will be taken to their nearest hospital for emergency care however rather than remaining there they will be moved to whichever hospital has been chosen to deal with that particular type of ailment.

The Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) approved 19 recommendations at a meeting on Friday.

Amongst the proposals were plans for Braintree Community Hospital’s Courtauld Ward to be used for non-emergency orthopaedic procedures for Mid Essex patients.

Professor Christopher Green, chairman of the Friends of Braintree Community Hospital, said the group still had concerns over the management of the hospital.

“It will be interesting to see what happens next,” he said.

“The changes will create a much greater bureaucratic structure than before with the hospitals working so close together.

“It may be more cost effective on paper, but whether it is in reality I am not so sure.”

The changes are set to be introduced over time, with transport strategies set to be in place before any changes occur.

Clare Panniker, chief executive of the three hospitals said: “We are pleased the joint committee has agreed these proposals to run our hospitals in a better way by working together and using our people and resources as effectively as possible for the greatest benefit to patients.

“This process has been about ensuring safe and sustainable services for our community, and that continues to be our priority in the coming weeks and months as we work together to deliver the best possible care in all three of our hospitals.”

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