CONCERNS have been raised over plans to remove emergency surgical services from Basildon Hospital.

With the merger of Basildon, Broomfield, and Southend Hospitals progressing, an indepedent review panel praised the plans as largely positive, but made a host of recommendations.

The main recommendation focussed on patient safety concerns in regards to changes to emergency surgeries at Basildon Hospital.

In the long term, the plans aim to see one specialised centre for emergency and elective general surgery, but there is currently nowhere suitable.

As an interim step, it has been suggested that complex emergency surgeries are split across two sites - Broomfield and Southend.

Concerns have been expressed by an independent review panel about patients going to Basildon A&E having to be transferred elsewhere for the surgery.

The panel’s concerns were echoed by Michael Mowe, Tory councillor for Wickford North.

He said: “I understand the general consensus is that it is a bad idea.

“Currently in Basildon and Southend, the hospitals are in walking distance from homes and the town centres.

“Also if people do not drive they will have to rely on public transport, family or friends. I just don’t think it will work.”

Other recommendations included further work to separate emergency and elective care.

The independent panel also called for the plans to be more ambitious in how they secured patient-focussed care.

The need for a robust IT plan to ensure easy access to information from across all three sites was also highlighted.

Dr Bernard Brett, East of England clinical senate chair and clinical review panel chair, said: “The one main area of concern was regarding the plans to move emergency surgical services including inpatient beds from the Basildon site.

“There was support for the consolidation of services including emergency surgical and specialist surgical services to help ensure that robust, high quality and sustainable consultant lead teams delivering speciality and subspecialty care could be available 24/7.

“It was however felt that moving such services from the Basildon site and it being the proposed centre or hub for interventional radiology, cardiothoracics, cardiology, vascular surgery, and renal medicine was a potential significant safety risk.”

Dr Celia Skinner, chief medical officer for the three hospitals welcomed the report and the recommendations. She said: “The senate review provided our doctors and nurses with a great opportunity to discuss and debate how we want to improve our services for local people, with their peers from outside of the local area, and I would like to thank all those who took the time to be part of this important process.”