A leading consultant has said the future of Southend’s stroke unit should not be used as “a political football”.

The Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) wants to create a hyper-acute stroke unit at Basildon Hospital and maintain acute stroke units at Southend and Broomfield.

However, the issue has become fertile ground for cross party political posturing, including from left wing groups who believe STP plans are a bid to undermine the NHS by the Conservative Government.

The increasingly strident views being bandied about on social media have angered Paul Guyler, lead stroke consultant at Southend Hospital.

Dr Guyler said providing the best stroke service for patients should be a priority over party politics.

He took to Twitter to call for people to work together and said: “Stroke is far too important to be a political football. This terrible disease has devastating effects.”

Calling on people to “stop Tweeting abuse at each other” Dr Guyler added: “We would be foolish to think that working together across a large area will be easy. But if we can provide better care, prevent disability and stop people dying, then we should try.”

Speaking to the Echo after raising his concerns on social media, Dr Guyler said: “I want to make it clear these are my views but I have since spoken with the STP and they don’t have a problem with what I’ve said.

“We have very good stroke services in mid and south Essex. The hospitals all have good units so we are luckier than some areas where they are not so good. I think it has become so political because they are so good but it’s an opportunity for us to work together to do things better rather than compete with each other like we have in the last ten years.” Dr Guyler added: “I fully understand people’s concerns, for example on transport. My personal view is that I don’t think we’ve done enough to reassure people over these concerns.”