MAJOR plans to reform health services in south Essex have been referred to the Health Secretary by Thurrock councillors.

At an extraordinary meeting of Thurrock Council’s health and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee the referral was confirmed.

The £118million plans involve sharing services between Basildon, Southend and Broomfield hospital, closing Orsett Hospital - and replacing it with four medical centres.

Plans also include changes to GP and home care however these are currently on hold.

Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford claims the delays are costing lives while James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, called them “disappointing.

Thurrock Council is the second to call-in the plans.

Vice committee chairman John Allen said: “I do believe in and support the decision to send the plans to the secretary of state to see if they say Orsett Hospital should be closed.

“I think it is the right way forward and the right decision.”

Victoria Holloway, Labour chair of the committee said she is glad the decision will go forward and will be further scrutinised.

Southend Council has also referred the plans to the Health Secretary with concerns over the plan as a whole including transport and the future of the stroke unit at Southend Hospital which could be lost.