A&E patients will be shipped out to Brentwood and Billericay as Basildon Hospital’s emergency department creaks at the seams.

Bosses at NHS South Essex have authorised the reopening of closed wards at Brentwood Community Hospital and Billericay’s Mayflower Hospital this winter because Basildon is struggling to cope with the number of people coming in.

The hospital – which serves Thurrock – has seen a 9 per cent increase in admissions compared to 2011 levels and expects that figure to grow as temperatures fall.

Eight beds at Mayflower and 25 in Brentwood, which were closed last year as part of a cost-cutting drive to save £1.36million, will be reopened to meet the demand.

At a meeting of the hospital’s board, new chief executive Clare Panniker said: “There is no strong grip on what’s driving the increase in admissions or analysis to pin down the source.

“Lots of trusts have seen increases of two, three and 4 per cent, but we have seen 9 per cent, which is unusual.”

Adam Sewell-Jones, finance director, added: “This is good news as it will relieve some of the pressure, but it’s not going to solve the problem.” The extra wards, which open on November 19, will be occupied by patients who need long-term treatment.

The hospital has missed its performance target of seeing all A&E patients within 60 minutes, with some waiting as much as five hours to be treated.

Fines of £140,000 from the Government could follow.

Hospital trust chairman Ian Luder told the board it could not solve the crisis alone and needed help from higher authorities.

He said: “We need action now to prepare for next winter because this is not going to go away.”