The district's politicians have spoken in favour of NHS reforms.

Braintree MP Brooks Newmark said: “I believe that the NHS is one our most precious national assets and that nothing in the Government’s reforms undermines the NHS’s founding principles – a health service, free to all, funded from general taxation, based on need and not ability to pay.

“The rationale behind the reform is that the NHS faces ever increasing challenges, from an ageing population and rising costs of new treatments and medicine."

Witham MP Priti Patel said: “The Government’s package of NHS reforms will ensure that unnecessary bureaucracy is removed from the NHS so that more resources can be focused on the frontline.

“On a weekly basis constituents bring to my attention appalling examples of where they are not getting the standards of healthcare that they deserve and these reforms are all about putting the needs of patients first."

See this week's Times for NHS special report.