NHS bosses are moving forward with plans to improve vascular, urology, radiology and orthopaedic services... despite the £118million revamp plan still being scrutinised by the Government.

The controversial proposals, to reshape healthcare in south Essex, are supposed to be on hold after Southend and Thurrock councils referred them back to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock – who himself was involved in the Tory leadership battle until last week.

The plan includes creating specialist centres at Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals and transferring patients across Essex to centres which best meets their needs, known as treat-and-transfer.

Yet bosses behind the Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) are clearly frustrated at the delay – and yesterday confirmed they were pushing on despite the uncertainty.

Chief executive Clare Panniker said: “This has been frustrating for our staff who have been unable to deliver the benefits these changes will bring to our communities.

“Due to the time it takes to bring about service changes, we have decided to continue the mobilisation of our planned first phase changes for vascular, urology, radiology and orthopaedic services. We will then be in the position to implement these changes this autumn to improve care and services for our patients. The Board will then look at the detailed plan and make a final decision on implementation in September.”

The Secretary of State has now asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to give initial advice on the changes. However, the STP says the first phase will see improvements in vascular, urological, orthopaedic and trauma care.

For example, at the moment a Southend patients needing urgent vascular care could be transferred to Harlow, Broomfield or Basildon for treatment.

With a consolidated service, and a dedicated vascular ward with 24/7 consultant cover and specialist staff, they will be able to stay in south Essex for expert care at Basildon Hospital. Ms Panniker said: “We know these changes will simplify care across our three hospitals, and enable us to dramatically improve our patients’ experience. We need to be ready to move forward as soon as possible.” A five-year plan is due to be published in the autumn.