EARLIER this week, an £8million expansion to modernise Southend Hospital’s A&E department, improve care and slash waiting lists was given the green light.

Here is everything we need to know: 

The major work will see a two-storey extension between the Prittlewell building and the main emergency department which will increase capacity and improve patient waiting times.

The start date for work to commence is unconfirmed, however in planning documents the hospital has stated it is hoping to begin later this year.

The Mid and South Essex Trust is currently falling below targets for patients to be seen within four hours at A&E - with 65.2 per cent seen in that time period in December.

Anna Firth, Tory MP for Southend West, said: “I am delighted to hear the plans for the long-awaited hospital extension have finally been approved.

“Since my election in February 2022, Southend Hospital has been one of my top priorities.

“It is no secret that sections of the hospital are in desperate need of modernisation, and it is my hope that this redevelopment will address these issues and ensure the hard-working staff at Southend Hospital are able to continue the fantastic work they are already doing.

“I hope to bring the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to Southend Hospital soon to show her first hand the brilliant work being done by all.”

Alongside an extension, the ambitious project at Southend involves a new paediatric entrance, new emergency department entrance, improvements to ambulance parking with additional bays, new disabled parking bays, adjustments to existing car park layout and landscaping works.

In the planning statement, the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust said this will increase the capacity of the emergency department and improve patient waiting times.

They said: “Southend has one of the smallest capacities of all the emergency department across the Trust, making its expansion especially important.

“The scheme is an important, much-needed modernisation project, that is vital to help us develop a better and more efficient department that is fit for the needs of our growing population.

“The phased extension will see additional capacity, to support more rapid assessment, treatment and resuscitation bays. It will also provide more space for emergency care, improve ambulance handover times and help meeting the growing demand of the ED of Southend Hospital. This will support faster ambulance handover.”