Despite assurances, accident and emergency provision at Southend University Hospital is going to be downgraded. It is not a question of 'if', but of 'how much?' This affects not only the blue light services, those people conveyed by ambulance, but also those that arrive at A&E under their own steam.
The proposals do not include a 'none of the above' option, and so only Basildon will have a full A&E operation, whilst Chelmsford and Southend are seeing changes. This has ramifications beyond the quality of healthcare provided.
The most obvious objection, oft repeated in almost every conversation I have had on this subject, are on the subject of extended journey times. Those living in the east of the Borough will not only drive pass Southend Hospital, but whilst doing will be doubtless noting that their journey is not even at the halfway mark.
When every second counts, substantially increasing journey times is a very bad idea indeed.
But what of those whose treatment is done? However you look at it, getting back from Basildon could be very expensive, and taxi fares in the middle of the night will hit hard-worked pockets.
Visitors will also have to endure longer journey times, meaning for some that a visit will become rarer, if not abandoned as impossible.
Of course I will be defending my local hospital, a building close enough to be viewed from my childhood bedroom window. But I am not looking to get one over on Basildon and Chelmsford. I weep at their degradation too.
It looks like the National Health Service is getting harder to access, contrary to the ideals of those who founded it in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.