Southend Hospital has invested more than £17million into building improvements with a significant amount going towards crital care facilities.

Work is underway on an expansion of the A&E department that will help to speed up assessment and treatment at peak periods and help reduce ambulance offload times.

The two-floor extension will include a dedicated Rapid Assessment and Treatment area allowing for early assessments for patients arriving via ambulance.

It eliminates an initial junior medical assessment and means that the first doctor a patient sees can create a plan of care and make a faster decision as to whether the patient requires admission within the hospital, to see their GP, or are discharged home.

Caroline Howard, clinical director for the emergency department and medicine, said: “Having a dedicated, purpose-built area for this will mean patients come off the ambulance quicker and get seen by a senior decision maker sooner, all of which helps improve both patient safety and the quality of our patient care.

“This small expansion will have a big impact. It will make us a more efficient area and, as patients for admission are identified earlier, they’ll be able to leave the department much sooner.”

The construction started in August and will be split into two phases, with six patient bays opening in December and new staff offices being completed in 2019.

It will be built at a cost of around £1.56 million, which is being paid for by bonus money given to the Trust for meeting its financial target last year.

A further £1million went towards the expansion of critical care, allowing them to provide a new high dependency unit for patients who have had major surgery or no longer need intensive care but still require specialist monitoring.

The Kitty Hubbard HDU opened in May with four beds and has the potential to be expanded in the future.

A large portion of the £1million was rasied by hospital associated charities, allowing the purchase of essential medical equipment and state of the art technology.

Millions more has been invested into making general infrastructure and maintainance improvements to the hospital's existing buildings.