PLANS to share hospital services are at risk as a second council is set to refer plans to the health secretary.

Thurrock Council's scrutiny committee unanimously supported a motion calling for the biggest shake-up of NHS services in decades to be looked at again.

Those in charge of healthcare in south Essex were tasked with finding a way to combat rising costs, waiting lists and a lack of staff.

Experts from across south Essex came together and agreed a £118million plan for hospital and GP care.

One of the main parts of the plan involved each hospital specialising in certain areas rather than all hospitals having all departments.

The treat and transfer model would have seen patients initially cared for at their nearest hospital and then moved to whichever of Southend, Basildon or Broomfield Hospitals was the most appropriate.

Orsett Hospital would close and specialist stroke facilities would be based at Basildon only.

First Southend Council decided to refer the whole plan to secretary of state Matt Hancock, in a bid to save the Southend stroke unit and other facilities.

The council also claim the consultation was flawed and there is little detail about how the patients would be moved.

Now Thurrock Council will debate also calling in the plan.

At a meeting on Thursday night Labour councillor Victoria Holloway, chairman of the health overview and scrutiny committee, called on committee members to back the referral.

She said: "As many are aware Southend has already referred this to the secretary of state and I am asking the committee to agree that we should make a similar referral.

“There have been a number of issues raised with regards to the consultation process and residents have continued to raise with us that they are unhappy with that.

"Residents are also still uncertain about the closure of Orsett hospital.”

The £118million plans are currently on hold and there are concerns funding for the scheme could be lost.

When Southend Council initially refused to back the plans Independent councillor Martin Terry said: "Southend has the highest population and the highest demand for services.

“We also have an excellent existing stroke service so why would you want to dismantle that and put it somewhere else and suggest we transport people up and down the road network.

Tom Abell, chief transformation officer and deputy chief executive of Basildon Hospital, said: "It was never about cutting services or reducing services. This stops all the changes planned." He feared continuing as they are could cause significant problems.