FRESH concerns have been raised over the future of Halstead Hospital.

The League of Friends of Halstead Hospital has voiced fears over the future of the medical facility.

It comes after the hospital ward was closed at the start of the pandemic when its facilities were transferred to Braintree Community Hospital.

In March this year, the group says Provide, which runs the hospital, introduced ‘virtual wards’.

Instead of spending time in Halstead Hospital, patients were sent straight home.

Hospital staff were offered a chance to look after patients at home but the group says it meant some Halstead-based staff were forced to travel as far as Chelmsford and Maldon.

As a result, the League of Friends claim “a lot of the staff resigned or retired and those that did take up the offer have found it arduous and challenging”.

In a letter to the Gazette, the group said: “The role of Halstead Hospital ward now is uncertain for the future.”

They claim there are three possible outcomes, including closing the hospital all together.

The League of Friends added: “At our October AGM one of the Provide directors laid out the present situation and uncertainties. “The good news is the rehabilitation centre and outpatients will continue unchanged. It is the ward block we are concerned about.

“It is thanks to the many donations and legacies we have received over the years that has allowed us to make Halstead Hospital such an excellent facility and it would be a travesty to lose it.

“We will campaign hard to try and keep these excellent facilities going which have been financed by the people of Halstead, owned by the League of Friends and lent free to the NHS. “We do need all the support we can get from local people and dignitaries.”

Dan Doherty, of Mid and South Essex CCGs, said: “Halstead Hospital is an important part of the local NHS and we want to make sure it is put to the best possible use.

“I appreciate there has been uncertainty and we are beginning to explore how we balance the continued impact of Covid-19 with how we deliver wider community bed based services.”