A CONTROVERSIAL decision in Southend has had a knock-on effect here.

The well-publicised, and long time in the pipeline proposal for the £118million remodelling of the NHS in this part of Essex has been put on ice after being referred to the Health Secretary.

Southend councillors have demanded more clarity on the plans which have been stalked by controversy since they first came to light three years ago.

A key concern in that part of Essex is the downgrading of the award-winning stroke facilities at Southend Hospital.

The impact of the delay in Thurrock has brought back into the light the controversial introduction of four new health centres to take on services once Orsett Hospital closes. This has been something of a rather hot political potato. And as I’ve said before in this column the important thing surely has to be getting better health facilities.

Experts at the NHS have said that is what these health centres will provide rather than an ageing hospital. Unless they are lying this move seems to make sense.

It’ll now be interesting to see if Thurrock Council makes its own referral. The Independents and Labour will again push for Orsett Hospital to stay open.

The hope has to be that the Health Secretary makes a swift decision about whether these reforms go ahead.

And the crucial thing is £118million worth of funding is not lost and goes towards improving health care in Essex. Whether that’s within the current plan or a new one.