A £16MILLION animal hospital will remain closed for another month before a phased return after it was damaged during a huge fire at a neighbouring building.

Southfields Veterinary Specialists in Basildon was affected by the fire on April 18.

The fire led to an emergency evacuation of all individuals and pets, transferring them to nearby veterinary centres for continued treatment.

Delays - Southfields remains closedDelays - Southfields remains closed (Image: Southfields)

While Southfields itself did not catch fire, the Linnaeus-owned facility suffered damage.

Originally set to re-open last week, necessary renovation delays mean the hospital will stay shut for a few more weeks, with a reopening update expected by the middle of July.

Southfields’ Hospital Director, Daniel Hogan, said: "Southfields Veterinary Specialists was damaged by a large fire next to the hospital in April.

"Since then, an expert team has been working incredibly hard onsite to make the building safe as quickly as possible.

Support - Pets and staff evacuated due to the fireSupport - Pets and staff evacuated due to the fire (Image: Essex Fire)

"Southfields is a unique site with specialist technical equipment and state-of-the-art facilities, so it is taking time to ensure that everything is safe and working correctly before our team can return to the building.

"The hospital will be closed for a few more weeks and we will then return on a phased basis.

"We will provide a further update in mid-July"

Despite the unforeseen circumstances, patient care remains paramount.

Mr Hogan said: "Our patients are still being looked after by the Southfields team at nearby veterinary centres.

"Both Southfields and Cherrydown Vets, which is nearby, are part of the Linnaeus veterinary group and Cherrydown have been fantastic by sharing their sites and facilities with the Southfields team.

"We are also very grateful to our clients for being so kind and accommodating during this time, and look forward to seeing them at the hospital soon."

Colleagues from other sites owned by Linnaeus veterinary group remain available to support patients as needed.