CASH from the sale of the Orsett Hospital site in Thurrock is needed to kickstart plans to create the five new health centres, it has been revealed.

The Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) has confirmed further funding would come from the closure and sale of the land.

This decision has attracted widespread criticism and is the basis for Thurrock Council’s referral to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP. The authority wants him to look again at the £118m NHS transformation plan for Essex.

Thurrock councillors have now raised concerns about extra money from the land sale going towards the plans. The goal, if the plan goes ahead, is for five new health centres to be created in Thurrock to replace and improve on Orsett Hospital’s current services.

John Allen, vice-chairman of Thurrock Council’s health and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee, said: “I would have preferred it if the money wasn’t coming from the sale of Orsett. It feels like it’s been forced upon us and that we’ve been told we can’t have any money for the new centres and health care provision without the sale of Orsett Hospital.

“I am concerned that we haven’t had the new medical centres under these STP plans.

“Despite this we are still planning thousands of extra homes as part of the Thurrock Local Plan.

“Health care is so important, and no more homes should be built until we have our health care sorted.”

Victoria Holloway, chairman of the health and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee said she will be concerned if money doesn’t remain in Thurrock.

She said: “We have always had assurances that the money from the sale of Orsett Hospital will go back into Thurrock health care.

“I will be extremely unhappy and concerned if this has changed and the money is used elsewhere for other areas.

“I hope they keep to their assurances and promises.

“We were aware there was a question mark over the capital money and this coming from the sale of Orsett Hospital.

“I do not want to make any assumptions, but I hope what we were promised has not changed.”

A spokesperson for the STP said: “The Mid and South Essex STP was identified to receive national capital funds to support the transformation work in all three hospitals in Southend, Chelmsford and Basildon, by the Treasury in November 2017.

“This money was sought to make investments in new operating theatres, improvements in IT to make it easier to operate across hospital sites and around 50 extra inpatient beds.

“It was earmarked alongside £12million raised locally from the sale of assets including the unused land at Fossetts Farm, Southend.

“By comparison each year the hospitals individually have budget of around £10million to spend on capital or one-off projects including equipment, refurbishment of estate and IT investment.”

Clare Panniker, Chief Executive of Southend, Chelmsford and Basildon hospitals said: “The £118 million we were allocated signified the most significant investment into mid and south Essex for almost a decade, helping to bring clinical areas up to modern standards.”