CAMPAIGNERS are furious money meant for health services in Southend will instead be spent on “removing services from our hospital”.

Money from the sale of land near Fossetts Farm, where a diagnostic centre was supposed to be built before it was sold for housing, has been given to an organisation looking to change hospital care in south Essex.

The Sustainable Transformation Partnership plans to share some services between Southend, Basildon and Broomfield Hospitals.

Despite the £118million plans being on hold after objections from Southend and Thurrock Councils more money is being given to the health organisation.

A spokesman for Save Southend NHS said: “Money from the NHS public land sell off has gone into the STP slush fund - to further decimate our local hospital.

“The irony, that land was meant to be for a diagnostic and treatment centre for the people here - yet they are using it to further their plans to remove services from our hospital.

“That’s why the Fossetts for the People campaign wants to ensure our community at least get something back from the disgraceful sell off. “Genuinely affordable and key worker housing at least will help our housing and NHS worker crisis.”

A freedom of information request revealed £7million from the sale at Fossetts Farm has been given to the STP despite the scheme having been promised £118million in national funding, which remains on hold.

Last year Southend Council called for the plan to be reviewed by the secretary of state over concerns it may leave the borough’s residents worse off through the relocation of a stroke unit to Basildon and concerns over how patients would be moved.

The STP would also receive the money from the sale of Orsett Hospital.

A spokesman for the STP said: “The mid and south Essex STP was identified to receive national capital funds to support the transformation work in all three hospitals in Southend, Chelmsford and Basildon, by the Treasury in November 2017.

“This money was sought to make investments in new operating theatres, improvements in IT to make it easier to operate across hospital sites and around 50 extra inpatient beds.

“It was earmarked alongside £12million raised locally from the sale of assets including the unused land at Fossetts Farm.

“By comparison each year the hospitals individually have budgets of around £10million to spend on capital or one-off projects including equipment, refurbishment of estate and IT investment.”

Clare Panniker, chief executive of Southend, Chelmsford and Basildon hospitals said: “The £118 million we were allocated signified the most significant investment into mid and south Essex for almost a decade.

“For Southend Hospital this would represent an extra £41 million to spend on improving the quality of the facilities in which we care for our patients, helping to bring clinical areas up to modern standards.”

Southend councillor Bernard Arscott, chairman of the joint health and overview scrutiny committee, said he had not been made aware of where the money from the sale would go.

Councillor Matt Dent of Southend Labour added that he has “serious concerns” about where the money was being spent.

Plans to use the 15 acres of land at Fossetts Farm in Southend for a diagnostic and treatment centre were abandoned in 2014 and four years later Southend Hospital sold the land to Homes England for £7million. It is estimated up to 400 homes could be built on the land, and campaigners have been calling for social housing.