Plans to move the eye surgery department out of Braintree Community Hospital have been branded a “shambles” by critics.

Friends of Braintree Community Hospital chairman Chris Green has launched a stinging attack on Mid Essex Hospital Trust after it confirmed it was looking to relocate ophthalmology services to elsewhere in the region.

The change will open up more space for orthopaedic care at the hospital, which is in Chadwick Drive, and means there will now be two theatres available for surgery.

Health bosses are aiming to make Braintree Hospital a centre of excellence for orthopaedics following the confirmation of a merger between trusts in mid and south Essex which will see services shared between hospitals.

But with the changes likely to be at the expense of the ophthalmology department, Mr Green has hit out at the proposals and has demanded more details be provided.

He said: “I’ve had a number of consultants ringing me up each day about this.

“They have told me they were never consulted on these plans and only found out when they were sent an email about the changes.

“I’ve attempted to speak with people at the clinical commissioning group and trust but they are hiding away and should be ashamed by this.

“The root cause of the problem is how health is being reorganised in mid and south Essex.

“It is being driven by people out of the locality who are creating bigger and bigger bodies in an effort to squeeze and save money.

“The trust two years ago said it wanted to make Braintree a centre of excellence for ophthalmology. They make and break so many promises and change the plan so many times. None of us are really aware of the full detail of what is going on.

“It’s a complete shambles.

“They are incompetent and should be ashamed.”

He added: “It’s my understanding they don’t have an alternative location in Mid Essex and are looking into outsourcing it.

“I am reliably told that if the surgical side goes then the clinics will go as well.

Amid claims the Mid Essex Hospital Trust will seek to outsource ophthalmology surgery and clinics, chief executive Clare Panniker has moved to reassure patients that services will remain in the region.

She said: “There is absolutely no threat to the future of eye surgery in Mid Essex.

“Patients needing cataract operations will continue to receive high quality ophthalmic care delivered by our expert clinicians.

“We are creating a centre of excellence for planned orthopaedic care at Braintree Community Hospital. The two state-of-the-art theatres there were designed for this work, and will be used to carry out hip and knee replacements.

“We know that will lead to better outcomes for patients and reduce waiting times.

“We are actively working towards securing a new theatre for cataract operations in Mid Essex, and the service will remain at Braintree Community Hospital until a new location has been found.”

Online petition to save department

A PETITION has been set up against plans to move eye surgery away from Braintree Hospital.

The online document is understood to have been set up by consultants affected by the proposals and has already been signed by more than 650 people.

A statement accompanying the petition calls on signatories to share the document in order to warn the many patients who may be affected by the proposals.

It adds: “This is an utter shame. A very poorly planned orthopaedic transfer shouldn’t mean that patient with cataracts in Braintree and Chelmsford should suffer.

“The suspension of ophthalmic surgery services at Braintree community hospital is going to have significant adverse consequences for our local population.

“We want to protect this precious and valuable resource.

“Patients not only come from Braintree but also from Chelmsford or even as far as outskirts of Colchester and parts of Suffolk.”

To view the petition, visit