Hospitals in south Essex are bidding for Government funding for a £118million plan to overhaul healthcare services, which could increase the number of beds available.

In a report to the Southend Health and Wellbeing Board, the Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership confirmed Southend, Basildon and Chelmsford hospitals will all keep a full 24/7 blue light emergency department.

It follows a sustained campaign to prevent Southend A&E being downgraded and Basildon being turned into a specialist emergency centre.

The report says that after months of planning, the three hospitals are almost ready to put their business case to the Government for funding approval - subject to public consultation - and that the plans “are likely to involve an overall increase in bed capacity at the three hosptials”.

Clare Panniker, chief executive of all three hospitals, also outlined the plans in a letter to staff.

She said: “We are developing our current options with more detail around how the emergency care pathway could work in the future. As part of this we believe the three current A&E departments at Basildon, Broomfield and Southend could continue to receive “blue light” emergency patients with serious conditions. It would rule out the blanket redirection of all “blue light” ambulances to Basildon, as outlined in our earlier work on this.”

Ms Panniker added: “Our local clinicians, including the senior doctors responsible for emergency care in each of the three hospitals, have developed a clinical plan which would see the majority of local people get the specialist emergency care they need via their local A&E.

“Under this plan, in an emergency, patients would go to their local hospital A&E, be assessed, stabilised and treated there, and then either referred for further care;, admitted for ongoing treatment, discharged, or transferred to a specialist team for treatment and care at another hospital, if that’s what they need. The norm would be for patients to go to their local hospital in an emergency.”

The plans include developing specialist centres and to separate planned operations and treatments from emergency care in a bid to cut the number of cancelled operations.

“There will also be an “overall increase in bed capacity at the three hospitals”.