TIMES are bitter sweet for Lesley Chapman.

As head of hearing and balance services at Essex County Hospital’s audiology department, she has seen many changes in her 30-year career there.

But now Lesley and her team begin in their new, modern space at the Primary Care Centre in Turner Road.


Ms Chapman said: “It feels like the end of an era and I and my colleagues have all enjoyed working at Essex County.

“It has been a friendly place to work. We are looking forward to the new building and taking some of that spirit of Essex County Hospital with us.

“I think there is camaraderie among the people who work here and a shared goal of doing what’s best for our patients.”

The goal I think stems from previously having the cancer wards – Jefferson and Rhys Lewis – here.”

Ms Chapman trained at the College for the Deaf in Holborn, London, before she went to work at the County Hospital, in Lexden Road.

During her time at the site she has inevitably experienced many changes, mainly in technology advances.

She said: “There have been so many developments in terms of what we can offer to deaf people, particularly when working with adults with complex hearing needs. Testing has become more sophisticated.

“But the department has seen better days and is not fit for purpose anymore.”

The move of the department means there is adequate wheelchair access for the first time, as opposed to a steep ramp at the Essex County Hospital site.

Audiology was one of the last services to relocate because of the sound-proofing equipment used and logistics involved in moving this.

The department also treats children and patients of any age with balance problems and tinnitus as well as those with complex needs.

Ms Chapman added: “I love my job and I will look forward to seeing my patients when we move.”

She said Audiology receptionist colleague Lorraine Applin has worked in the NHS for 43 years, adding: “She is very positive about the move, she says we are the same people and our patients are the same people. We are going to bring what happens with us.”

Anyone who uses the audiology service and has questions can contact it at the Primary care Centre on 01206 286909 or by text phone on 07801 672153.

Another long-serving hospital worker who has felt the wrench of moving out is opthalmology sister Clare Smith.

She started her training there in 1982 when she was 18.

She said: “It has been mixed emotions and it has crept up on us all this month.

“Patients and staff have been really keen to look around the building before we left and lots of photographs have been taken so we didn’t miss any of the building before we leave.

“But at the same time we have been excited about going to the new purpose-built eye centre.”

Her department started to move out on November 23 and was ready for patients at the primary care centre onWednesday.

“The thing I really remember from Essex County Hospital was it was a friendly old building, there were lots of really nice features, for example the old bannisters and the changes we have had with all the patients.

“I can still remember patients from all those years ago.

“You never forget your patients.”