STRUCTURE: Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust will remove all services from its Essex County Hospital site by April 2015, trust papers reveal.

The move is part of the trust’s plan to centralise oncology services at Colchester General Hospital over the next two years.

A trust spokesman told HSJ: “For at least the past two decades, it has been the strategy of this trust and its predecessor organisations to centralise acute services.”

The county hospital site opened on the edge of the Essex town in 1820, he added. “It is congested, has extremely limited parking (just 30 public spaces) and a backlog of maintenance work.”

The Colchester General Hospital site, which opened in 1985, was a “more spacious site” on the edge of Colchester that opened in 1985, he said.

Hospital staff are expected be relocated, although the terms of their transfer have not yet been negotiated. The trust does not expect there to be any redundancies.  

Essex County Hospital’s two inpatient cancer wards will be transferred to Colchester by the end of August.

The relocation of services began in October with the opening of a chemotherapy unit at Colchester.

A £25m radiotherapy centre was due to open at the start of this month, but has been delayed “because of the complexity of commissioning the complex infrastructure of the building and the linear accelerator,” according to papers from the trust’s April governing body meeting.

Other services provided by the hospital include oral surgery, a breast screening and breast service, audiology and dermatology.

Some services are expected to be relocated to community settings.

Future use of the Essex County site has not yet been decided.

Trust chief executive Kim Hodgson said: “Although parts of the hospital are now outdated, staff continue to provide first-class services in a friendly, personable atmosphere.

“Some staff have given many years of service at Essex County Hospital, so I understand this announcement about transferring off the site will be met with some sadness.”