FACED with the closure of Southend Hospital’s first-class urological cancer department, hospital bosses have not taken the threat lying down.

The counter-offensive takes the form of a partnership with Basildon and Chelmsford hospitals.

This substantially increases the catchment area served by the hospital, and thus the justification for retaining the local unit.

However, the move could spell bad news for the Southend unit’s counterpart at Colchester hospital, serving the north of the county.

Chelmsford patients previously came under Colchester’s remit.

Having lost so large a segment of the area it serves, the Colchester unit is now exposed and vulnerable to closure.

The Southend unit’s survival, desirable as it is, should not be at Colchester’s expense.

Both units are highly regarded, and the loss of either of these expert teams would be little short of irresponsible.

Closure of either unit will mean patients need to travel from one end of the county to the other for specialist treatment.

Many patients would be dependent on public transport.

In this respect, links between between Southend and Colchester are tortuous.

Demanding even for a healthy person, a regular journey from north to south of the county, or vice versa, would be particularly draining for a cancer sufferer.

The need for local access, as well as the size of the catchment area, must be taken into consideration. Both Southend and Colchester units should remain intact.