THE reopening of a town’s hospital has been hailed a perfect Christmas gift after it opened its doors for the first time in two years this week.

The ward at Halstead Hospital officially reopened on Thursday, December 1.

It comes after news of the reopening was broken by Braintree MP James Cleverly on social media.

Having been closed since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, there had been fears for the future of the hospital.

The beginning of the pandemic saw facilities transferred to Braintree Community Hospital and later the introduction of ‘virtual wards’ by Provide, which runs the hospital, in March 2021.

The ward supports those needing rehabilitation after surgery or a decline in their conditions, but pandemic changes instead saw patients sent straight home from hospital.

Mr Cleverly had vowed to do what he could to save the hospital and kept in constant dialogue with the Halstead Hospital League of Friends and Provide.

Now the ward has reopened on a four-month contract which will see services provided until the end of March next year.

The move has been welcomed by the Halstead Hospital League of Friends but they say it could have reopened sooner.

Halstead Hospital League of Friends chairman Alan Symington said: “It is excellent news that at last Halstead Hospital Ward block is being reopened after all these months.

“I believe it is due to open on Friday and start taking patients next Monday subject to getting adequate numbers of staff.

“New staff will be on a three-month contract until March 2023 then it is uncertain as to what will happen next.

“The League of Friends feel very strongly that we have an excellent facility which has not been used for some time and could have relieved the bed shortage in the district general hospitals long before now.

“We are very pleased that it is reopening, and we will resume our Christmas gifts for the patients and support for the staff as soon as the patients arrive.”