SUPPORTERS of Halstead Hospital are "hopeful" it will stay open after being told it is making a "real difference" easing pressure on the NHS over the winter.

Halstead Hospital’s League of Friends has provided its latest update after receiving positive feedback from a health boss.

The hospital reopened its doors for the first time in more than two years at the beginning of December.

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 the introduction of ‘virtual wards’ in March 2021 by Provide, which runs the hospital.

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.

The ward reopened on a four-month contract which will see services provided until the end of March, with the future still uncertain.

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A spokesman for the League of Friends provided an update after a committee meeting last week.

They said: “Dan Doherty, director of the integrated care system at Mid and South Essex Alliance attended the meeting.

“On a very positive note, he told us how re-opening the Hospital Ward was making a real difference regarding winter pressures.

“The ward is being well used with a good turnover of patients, which in turn is having an impact in easing the winter pressures within the acute hospitals.

“The ‘powers that be’ are very pleased with the positive results, which makes us very hopeful the hospital will stay open.

“Mr Doherty was full of praise with how the ward is being run. It’s well-staffed and the feedback from patients is very positive.

“He is hopeful he will be free to attend our annual general meeting which will be open to the general public."

The date and venue of the meeting is still to be confirmed.