I am committed to the NHS and providing the best local Accident and Emergency service. This is not about “downgrading” it’s about upgrading clinical care. Two years ago when I was ill I was sent to Accident and Emergency in London: bypassing all three of our local hospitals. Everyone would prefer local care but it is more essential that they get the best care possible.
At the outset I can confirm A&E will remain in Southend Hospital, remain open 24 hours a day and will be continued to be staffed with a team skilled at immediate stabilisation and management of all emergencies. You will continue to be able to go to A&E and use service as you do today. Making sure patients get both the best, and the fastest care is essential. Getting to hospital fast is no good if the team you need is not there on standby 24/7. Proposed changes to local A&E are an extension what already happens across our three local hospital (Southend, Basildon and Chelmsford). If you had a heart attack in Southend today you would go to Basildon, if you got severe burns in Basildon they will send you to Chelmsford and if you has a stroke in Chelmsford you would be sent to Southend. Medicine is changing and is becoming more complex requiring specialisms and expertise concentrated together.
This is all part of a broader change in our local NHS. The administration functions of the hospital will be merged saving money. Southend will specialise further in cancer care and elective, planned operations. Many areas have operations cancelled due to influxes in major cases in A&E; this should happen less in the future.
Over the last year I have corresponded with, and met, officials of the local Clinical Commissioning Groups, Chief Executive of all three hospitals and the Minister at Department for Health. In addition, I have asked questions in the House of Commons regarding these proposals. To clarify no accident and emergency department in South and Mid Essex will close, this is good news, but we do need to have a clinically driven conversation about the best way to structure patient services and ensuring best patient outcome. Furthermore I have instigated a dialogue between the hospital and a local bus company to ensure that the issues residents have with accessing the hospital by public transport are addressed and a suitable solution is found.