NEW surgical wards and expanded emergency care are among major healthcare improvements coming to three Essex hospitals.

Details of how £118million will be invested across Southend, Basildon and Broomfield Hospitals have been revealed as the hospitals merge services.

At Southend Hospital, the funds will see a purpose built elective surgical care block with two wards, emergency care expansion, new operating theatres, a new paediatric assessment unit and a refurbished ophthalmology unit.

While at Basildon Hospital there will be a new endoscopy suite, an emergency care expansion, a critical care expansion, a new renal ward, new operating theatres and an onsite helipad.

A spokesman for Save Southend NHS said: “It is quite funny the helipad is being reintroduced, that was initially planned when there was discussions about having a super A&E at Basildon, but we were told that was taken off the table.

“As we have said, it is all about new buildings and putting a front on it, but there are not the staff.

“From the beginning we were told there would be a new recruitment strategy, that specialist centres would attract staff, but numbers are lower than ever. Frontline staff are leaving because there is no security about their role or where they will be based.”

Ron Woodley, deputy leader at Southend Council added: “I am still opposed. All they are trying to do is use this to solve the real problem with funding and a national shortage of trained medical staff.

“We are 2,500 nurses short here in Southend and they are saying lets just move things together which will hide or cover up the problem in the short term.

“They need to stop putting a sticking plaster over it and fund it properly and give us what we really need and that is equipment, nurses and doctors.”

The merger of the three hospitals, branded the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership, has been controversially throughout.

The plan was referred to the Health Secretary after Southend and Thurrock councils raised concerns.

Despite the merger resulting in £118 million in capital investment for improvements, £300 million in savings need to be made on day to day costs to balance budgets.

The five year plan states these will have to be made through “efficiency savings” despite a shortage of staff already.