SOUTH Essex hospitals will "lose 150 beds" and "150 staff will be let go", according to a union which has raised concerns over the impact on care.

In a damning statement yesterday, Unison claimed that short-staffing and a lack of available beds is “already putting the Mid and South Essex NHS Trust under severe strain”.

Following a meeting with union reps this week, Unison claims it was told the trust plans to launch a “voluntary severance scheme” to “cut 150 non-frontline clinical posts”.

On Thursday, the Echo revealed that Southend Hospital’s Stambridge ward, which used to treat patients with diabetes, would be moved and Unison has now claimed the 27-bed Bardfield ward, at Broomfield Hospital will close.

Unison claims senior managers at Basildon, Southend and Broomfield hospitals have “no idea where the remaining 96 beds will be cut from”.

The trust has insisted “no staff will lose their jobs as a result of bed changes” but confirmed a voluntary severance scheme is taking place.

It added “more beds will be provided on a different ward” at Southend Hospital.

Joyce Aldridge, Unison Basildon, Southend and Mid Essex Health branch secretary, said: “Short-staffing and a lack of beds is already putting the trust under severe strain. These cuts are sure to hit the quality of patient care.

“Mid and South Essex leaders have serious questions to answer about how they’ve got into this mess.”

NHS England figures show an average 1,750 of 1,869 overnight beds and 97 of the 110 day beds were occupied at the trust in the first quarter of 2024.

Ms Aldridge added: “Trust bosses don’t know or won’t tell us where two-thirds of the bed closures would be. It’s also been impossible to establish which “non-frontline clinical” jobs are on the chopping block, or how they relate to the 600 posts they’ve already said are disappearing.

“It’s clear the trust desperately needs a cash injection, but its senior managers also need to start being more open and transparent.”

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Mid and South Essex NHS Trust, said: “We are continuing with our plans to improve the flow of patients through our hospitals and provide high-quality care in the most efficient way. To support this, we are closing beds, including some that were funded temporarily to deal with winter demand at Southend Hospital and providing more beds on a different ward.

“In Broomfield we will be reconfiguring our wards to make best use of resources. These plans will also help us to make much needed improvements to the environments of some of our wards and will help us to care for people in the right place at the right time.”