A HUGE expansion of Southend Hospital which has seen a new million pound building open will help to slash waiting times and reduces queues, bosses say.

Patients are now being welcomed through the doors of the two-storey outpatients building, which will create space for an extra 200 people every week. 

The state-of-the-art building cost £1.2m to build and includes 14 consulting rooms, seven offices and a large waiting area.


It will initially be used for trauma and orthopaedic patients, before opening up to other outpatient specialities. 

Bosses hope the new building will lead the fightback against long delays and waiting lists at the hospital.

Vivienne Brailsford, outpatients manager at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust (MSE), said: "We’ve had a huge demand for extra outpatient space, and this new area will have an immediate effect on waiting times.

“This is a fantastic space, meaning we can deliver a better service to patients and they will receive their care in a much more welcoming, nicer area.”

Echo: Team - Vivienne Brailsford, main outpatients manager, and Karen Coleman, trauma and orthopaedics sister, in one of the consulting roomsTeam - Vivienne Brailsford, main outpatients manager, and Karen Coleman, trauma and orthopaedics sister, in one of the consulting rooms

The opening of the building is a welcome boost for bosses at the Mid and South Essex Trust, with NHS England figures showing 137,603 of its patients were waiting for non-urgent elective operations or treatment at the end of March. 

This was up from 130,968 in February, and 87,689 in March 2021.

Of those, 5,424 had been waiting for longer than a year.

The news comes as Southend councillor Aston Line reported a queue of 17 ambulances outside the hospital on Wednesday evening.

Echo: 'Daily occurrence' - 17 ambulances queued outside Southend Hospital'Daily occurrence' - 17 ambulances queued outside Southend Hospital

The former parliamentary candidate said: “The NHS is in crisis. It has been purposefully and intentionally underfunded for over a decade.”

Over the last six months, queues of ambulances have regularly formed outside the hospital, becoming a daily phenomenon.

In May, Southend West MP Anna Firth branded the situation "totally unacceptable” after counting 15 ambulances outside the hospital waiting to disembark patients.

Welcoming the new building, Ms Firth said: "This should go a long way to easing some of the pressures that have been facing our local hospital, reducing waiting lists for elective surgery and outpatient services.

"Of course, this new investment will not solve all the issues that we are facing, and we do need to find a long-term solution to the problems people have been experiencing in A&E. I am continuing to campaign hard for this.”

In March, an 87-year-old woman was kept outside the hospital in an ambulance for nearly six hours despite having a potentially life-threatening condition.

Campaign group Save Southend NHS says the situation is the result of “chronic understaffing and lack of investment”.

“Seventeen ambulances are not a one off,” a spokesman for the group said.

“This is becoming a daily occurrence and placing huge pressures on an already burnt-out workforce.”

Addressing ambulance queues, a spokesperson for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our hospitals are experiencing an extremely high demand for their services, with many arriving at A&E by ambulance, reflecting just how busy local NHS and social care providers are.

“We are all working together to respond to this higher demand for services, so that we can provide the best possible care for our patients.”