A NEW £4million ward will open “as soon as possible” at Basildon Hospital as construction nears completion.

The hospital was officially given planning permission to build a new 37 bed ward on site on Friday, but construction work had already started six weeks earlier following a series of discussions with Basildon Council, in a bid to get the ward up and running this winter.

The hospital has now confirmed that construction is in the “final stages”.

New beds for the hospital were initially announced in August, with NHS bosses stating an additional 26 beds will be created at Broomfield Hospital, in Chelmsford.

Kelly Parker, 63, of Long Riding, said: “Obviously extra beds and new improvements at the hospital is always a good thing. Even in the last week the temperature has plummeted and it reminds you that winter is here, and we all know the extra pressure that puts on our hospitals.

“Fingers crossed this will be open as soon as possible and it can help with those winter issues.

“The more beds the better and good on the hospital making this happen.”

The move comes with plans in full force to merge Broomfield, Southend, and Basildon Hospitals in a new transformation plan which includes measures such as “treat and transfer” with A&E patients stabilised at their nearest hospital before being moved to sites with specialist teams.

Tom Abell, Deputy Chief Executive Mid and South Essex University Hospital Group, said: “The new modular ward at our Basildon site will help us improve the care we provide to patients during the challenging winter period.

“It will increase our hospital capacity by giving us an additional 37 beds.

“Building work is now in the final stages and we hope to have the ward open as soon as possible so it can be available to patients.

“The cost of the new ward is an estimated £4m investment into improving the care we deliver to our local community.

“Our plans are to keep the new ward for approximately three years so we can undertake vital refurbishment to some of our other wards.”

Work begun six weeks ago.