NHS bosses are set to spend up to £1.4million to lighten the load on the A&E department in Southend.

Plans are underway to introduce more health care in the community instead of in hospitals under Mid and South Essex Success Regime plans to streamline services.

The plans aim to stop so many people attending A&E departments and instead be treated at their homes or in other parts of the community.

It comes as Southend Hospital has seen a surge of visitors to A&E over the festive period, causing increased waiting times and a backlog of ambulances waiting to offload patients.

The regime says the south east Essex healthcare system is under “significant pressure”. Demand for primary care, community and acute services continues to increase.

Managers say the total investment required across south east Essex to improve community healthcare is about £2.7million. Southend will require an investment of between £1.2 and £1.4million to deliver the plans, which it is hoped will ultimately help plug a predicted £500 million deficit by 2020/21.

One of the first services to be overhauled by the NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will be rapid response services.

In a report to the board, Ashley King, interim programme director, said: “System leaders in south east Essex have explored ways in which the system can prevent avoidable A&E attendances and subsequent acute hospital admissions.

“It has been identified that patients require high quality rapid holistic assessment and clinical intervention in the community, where their presenting condition could be managed within an enhanced health care package working with existing services.”

The report added: “Existing rapid response services are essentially a single individual holding a mobile phone. This is insufficient for the health needs of the local ageing and deteriorating population.”

The CCG will also look at providing more training for non NHS employees such as care home staff.

Ian Stidston, interim accountable officer for NHS Southend CCG said: “The vision for local health and care is for residents supported to keep healthy and manage their own health, in their own home, where safe and appropriate to do so.We are building a model that will offer targeted, joined-up preventative care to avoid unnecessary trips into hospital. Enhanced GP services are already in place within many of our care homes with a plan to roll this out this year.”