VITAL lifesaving services could be removed from Southend Hospital, it is feared.

NHS bosses are reviewing the Southend stroke unit’s thrombectomy service – where blood clots which have caused strokes are removed from vessels in the brain – and could move it to Basildon Hospital.

The Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership came up with plans to share services and staff between Southend, Basildon and Broomfield Hospital but, officially, these were put on hold after Southend and Thurrock Council referred them to the health secretary.

Campaigners are concerned very sick patients will be put at risk by being moved between hospitals which also puts the future of the world class stroke unit at Southend in danger.

Freddie Dawkins, a member of the partnership’s Transport Working Group, said: “I have spoken to senior medical staff at Southend and Broomfield this week and discovered they have been told that the thrombectomy service will be closed at Southend and moved to Basildon. Yet Southend has a world-leading medical team that have saved countless lives.

“This is just about cutting at least £400million from our local NHS services and nothing at all to do with a better service for patients.

“If the stroke units at Southend and Broomfield are run down, then we will lose vital, lifesaving treatment centres, along with incredibly highly-skilled staff.”

Deputy Chief Executive of the STP, Tom Abell, defended the review. He said: “We currently provide a best endeavours thrombectomy service at Southend and we are currently reviewing this service to ensure it is safe and meets the national specification for these services as set out by NHS England.”

A spokesman for Save Southend NHS said: “It is our opinion that the Mid and South Essex STP are unlawfully forging ahead with service moves away from Southend Hospital.”

The group pointed to the decision to place the hyper acute stroke unit in Basildon and the lack of commitment to a gold standard service in Southend.

The spokesman added: “It is our belief that the STP are attempting to move services away from Southend Hospital via the ‘back door’ so they can implement service moves without awaiting the health secretary’s decision and they must be held to account for this.”