“Downgrading the A&E department is the death knell for a hospital. “

From the Echo today, a stern warning from a hospital consultant…

A LEADING consultant told how plans to downgrade Southend’s A&E department are “potentially hazardous” and will spark a recruitment crisis at the hospital.

Dr Joseph O’Brien, a consultant gastroenterologist at Southend Hospital, believes proposals put forward by the Mid and South Essex Success Regime could have “dire consequences” for residents.

Under the plans, Basildon Hospital will become a specialist emergency centre. Southend and Broomfield, in Chelmsford, would take less serious cases.

Dr O’Brien spoke out after James Duddridge, Conservative candidate for Rochford and Southend East, said doctors will decide on the changes before they are introduced.

The most seriously ill patients will be taken to Basildon hospital – which will run the only 24/7 blue light service – sparking fears that lives will put at risk during ambulance journeys on often gridlocked roads.

Dr O’Brien argues the NHS overhaul will spell the “beginning of the end” for Southend Hospital as doctors and nurses will not want to work there.

He said: “There are sound medical reasons why this proposal is ill judged and potentially hazardous. Downgrading the A&E department is the death knell for a hospital. Emergency medical and surgical admissions are its life blood, allowing the development of experience and expertise….

Full report here.

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