• Conservative candidate calls for MIU to be closed and land sold off
  • Jackie Doyle-Price said new facilities would need to be put in place before any closure
  • Move would be controversial in area already set to consult on major A&E restructure

A Conservative election candidate in Essex has said local NHS organisations should close a minor injuries unit and sell the land, on the proviso alternative services are put in place first.

Jackie Doyle-Price, who has been the MP for Thurrock since 2010, said at hustings this week, reported by local media, that “NHS trusts should be free to sell that land if they want”. She added: “That’s exactly what’s going to happen with regard to Orsett Hospital.”

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Ms Doyle-Price later caveated on Twitter that Orsett should not close until “new health centres in Tilbury, Grays [and] Purfleet have been delivered”.

Three trusts run services out of the site. North East London Foundation Trust runs its minor injuries unit; while Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals and Southend University Hospital FTs both run outpatient services there. No inpatient services are run from the site.

Basildon told HSJ “no decision” had been made and any decision would be consulted on first, though no dates have been agreed for when this would take place.

A trust spokeswoman said: “There are discussions taking place around the future of local hospital and community based health services, through the Essex Success Regime and the joint Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group and Thurrock council proposals set out in For Thurrock, In Thurrock.

“The services currently provided at Orsett Hospital are being considered as part of these and no decisions will be made without first asking those who use the services, residents and staff for their views.”

John Kent, the Labour election candidate, said: “We finally have confirmation that this is what the Tories are planning for Orsett Hospital. I think this is a huge mistake and will fight the closure.”

The potential move is part of proposals for a wider reorganisation of acute services across mid and south Essex, which could see Southend and Mid Essex Hospital Trust downgraded and Basildon upgraded to a major emergency centre.

The proposals have split opinion among clinicians. The local clinical senate said the reconfiguration is not radical enough, while other local consultants have told HSJ Basildon will not be able to deal with the increase in the demand.

Ms Doyle-Price’s comments follow Theresa May saying last month that ministers would back the Naylor report, which called for a significant rationalisation of NHS land to fund proposals in sustainability and transformation plans.

The review by former University College London Hospitals FT chief executive Sir Robert Naylor said at least £10bn of capital funding was required to deliver STPs and make NHS facilities fit for purpose.