As part of cost cutting measures a proposal by the Conservative government is threatening to downgrade the A&E facilities at both Southend and Chelmsford hospitals, centralising the 999 service at Basildon hospital. Locals are worried that the additional distance will impact patient survivability for serious cases. Protesters marched up Southend High Street and gathered in Victoria Circus to listen to various speakers, including local candidates Ashley Dalton (Lab), Peter Gwizdala (Lib Dem) and Ron Woodley (Ind). The Conservative party sent a spokesman to read a prepared speech which wasn’t well received by the audience. As if to highlight the issue an ambulance had to be called to attend to one of the protestors who collapsed, the speed of arrival of which – from Southend hospital – didn’t go without mention!