'Protest meeting' to be held in Pitsea tomorrow over fears for Basildon Hospital's emergency department

By Charles Thomson in Health

A ’PROTEST meeting’ will be held in Pitsea tomorrow evening over plans to ’downgrade’ two of south Essex’s three local A&E departments.

Under the Mid and South Essex NHS ’Success Regime’, one A&E department – either Southend, Basildon or Broomfield at Chelmsford – would become a ’specialist emergency hospital’.

Critics have said this means people with serious injuries could face longer journeys to hospital as they will be re-routed to the chosen hospital, with the others will only deal with minor injuries.

The protest meeting will be held at The Place, Northlands Pavement, at 8pm on Tuesday, June 6.

It has been organised by the Basildon and Thurrock Trades Council.

The group is planning ’a series of actions together with campaigners in Chelmsford and SOuthend, to demand the funding our NHS needs’.

Speculation that Basildon Hospital could be chosen as the specialist A&E has sparked concerns from local residents that the already overwhelmed hospital could become even busier.

In January the YA revealed Basildon Hospital spent 357 days in 2016 on alert due to bed shortages.

It spent 39 days on amber alert, 130 on red alert, 180 on black alert and on nine days declared an ’internal critical incident’.

The number of black alert days more than doubled from 29 in 2014 to 64 in 2015, then almost tripled in 2016.

The plan to ’downgrade’ two A&Es is part of a scheme to address a predicted £450m budget shortfall.

Dave Murray, one of the meeting’s organisers, said: “The bottom line is that the very fabric of our NHS is at risk from these planned cuts. Here in Basildon, the A&E has been repeatedly overwhelmed with cases over the winter. How will they cope with three times the number of serious cases?”

Local health blogger Nick Bradley, who has represented hospital staff as a union officer, will be among the speakers at the meeting.

The meeting comes two weeks after hundreds of people marched through Southend High Street over plans to ’downgrade’ the town’s A&E.

The Mid and South Essex Success Regime told the YA the three hospitals were ’working as a group to meet the rising demands and make best use of specialist staff’.

They said: “There are no plans to close A&E at any of the three hospitals and a public consultation will be carried out at the end of the summer before any decisions are made.”

The group has set up a petition, which can be signed here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-basildon-a-e.

To follow the campaign on Facebook, visit: https://www.facebook.com/livesatstake/?ref=page_internal.

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