SOUTHEND Hospital as the base for a specialist stroke service was never considered during a public consultation, it has been revealed.

Borough councillors have now formally referred plans to create specialist centres in the three Essex hospitals back to the Secretary of State - the plans include a hyper-acute stroke treatment and rehabilitation unit at Basildon.

In its letter to Matt Hancock MP Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the people scrutiny committee said it was concerned over the “adequacy” of a public consultation on the Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation and Partnership plans, which will now be put on hold.

It said: “Due to the fact that no options were consulted upon during the public consultation there is no evidence to suggest that Southend Hospital, as an option to locate a specialist stroke service, was considered”.

In a scathing, list of concerns, the committee said the “Your Care in the Best Place” public consultation had reached “only a small fraction of the population”. It added decisions made following the consultation had not been backed up with evidence requested repeatedly by councillors.

The partnership proposes providing a number of specialist services across Southend, Basildon and Broomfield Hospital, with Basildon hosting the majority, including complex cardiology, respiratory and vascular services. It is hoped the plans will streamline services - and stem a financial black hole.

The council said it “fully recognised” complex challenges in healthcare and acknowledged some of the proposals would benefit Southend residents, including a £40million investment in Southend Hospital.

However, it added: “There is an established stroke service infrastructure in Southend. The council is of the opinion that the established infrastructure has not been considered in the development of the STP proposals.

“The demand for stroke services and occurrence of stroke in Southend does not support the relocation of a specialist stroke rehabilitation service away from Southend Hospital.”

The council said: “There has been a perceived lack of clarity regarding both the decision making process and evidence to support decisions led by the clinical commissioning group joint committee, which has manifested itself through inconsistency in accountability, disagreement from clinicians regarding the proposals, and inconsistent communications from both the joint committee and the hospitals.”

Little information was provided on a discharge and repatriation procedure for patients along with workforce, investment and implementation of the far-reaching plans.

The committee added: “Despite numerous offers from the council to support and develop, in partnership, alternative options for consideration the process of public consultation presented the proposals as the only option for consideration. There were no other options upon which the joint committee consulted.”