A MEETING is set to take place this afternoon that will put plans in motion to drastically change the way hospital services operate in mid and south Essex.

The board is set to approve 19 recommendations to shake-up the hospital services at Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals.

This includes that all three hospitals will retain their A&E departments, accepting "blue light" ambulances 24 hours a day.

The plans are based round a "treat and transfer" model which would see patients given initial treatment at their nearest hospital before being transferred to a specialist treatment centre at either Basildon, Southend or Broomfield depending on their condition.

For example, a specialist stroke unit will be created at Basildon which would mean patients suffering a suspected stroke would be taken to their nearest hospital for initial treatment before being transferred to Basildon's stroke unit for up to 72 hours of high dependency care and rehabilitation.

They would then be transferred back to their local hospital or home with further care and support.

Basildon, which also houses the Essex Cardiothoracic Centre, would also be the point of specialist treatment for complex heart and lung conditions and complex kidney problems.

The plans state that all outpatient appointments, tests, scans and short hospital stays for non-complex heart conditions will continue to be available locally.

Southend Hospital would become a specialist centre for gynaecological cancer surgery, orthopaedic surgery for south Essex patients and urological cancer treatments.

Broomfield would become a specialist centre for emergency general surgery and emergency abdominal surgery.

While initial plans indicated that all gastroenterology services would be moved to Broomfield, the recommendation is that all three hospitals will continue to offer these services, including inpatient care, day case, outpatient appointments, tests and scans.

Other recommendations include the closure of Orsett Hospital, in Thurrock, once all the services it offers have been relocated across Thurrock, Basildon and Brentwood.

The meeting is set to take place at 2.30pm and we will bring you the outcome of the meeting when it is available.