COLCHESTER General Hospital is set to lose its urological cancer surgery facility.

An expert panel has recommended services be centralised at Southend Hospital instead.

NHS England confirmed the recommendation on Thursday.

A final decision will be made by an NHS England regional management team.

A statement by NHS England read: “The panel found while the service at Colchester had considered a single site service, the team had not been able to fully address how they would undertake the service expansion required to provide a service across the whole county.

“By contrast, the team at Southend showed good understanding of the need to provide the service for the entire population, including an outreach model that showed they had thought about each element of the patient pathway, regardless of the area patients lived.

“They had clear mobilisation and capacity plans. These plans will be worked on together by all trusts in Essex.”

The clinical panel visited both hospitals on June 14.

National guidelines state there should be one centre per one or two million people.

The statement read: “The main reason for this is to ensure surgeons and multidisciplinary teams undertake enough complex urological cancer surgical cases to maintain their clinical expertise and give specialised prostate, bladder and kidney cancer patients the best chance of survival and improve future outcomes for the population of Essex.”

Essex was running two and the decision was made one had to close.

And north Essex is set to lose out.

There will still be services run from the hospital but the surgery itself is set to take place in Southend.

The switch is not expected to happen, if confirmed, until April next year and there will be further consultation with patients and the public in the coming months.

Dr Rory Harvey, clinical director for the East of England Cancer Strategic Clinical Network, said: “This is an important recommendation for people across Essex.

“For a long time we have had specialised urological surgery services that do not meet nationally agreed standards which are based on clinical evidence.

“The thorough review and subsequent recommendation of the clinical panel means we can start looking towards a new service that will drive improvements in the treatment of complex urological cancers, increase the number of patients we can treat and improve the survival chances for patients after one and five years in Essex.”

Dr Angela Tillett, medical director of Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“The Trust remains totally committed to ensuring that all of the people of Essex have access to the best possible service for complex urological cancer surgery.

“The Trust offers its thanks to everyone who was involved in the bid and for the widespread support we received from the local community, including patients, user groups, MPs, local media and the general public.

“Complex urological cancer surgery is only a small part of the work provided by the Trust’s urology department. All other urology treatment will continue to be provided locally.”

In 2014, the Gazette launched a campaign in support of Colchester General Hospital’s bid which garnered 8,000 signatures.

Campaign supporters argue it is unreasonable to expect patients and their families, some of whom live in Clacton and Harwich, to complete a 120-mile round trip for surgery in Southend.