A new hospital proposed in Essex to replace Princess Alexandra will have an even bigger emergency department, health chiefs have said weeks after a damning inspection report highlighted the A&E struggling under pressure.

Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust chiefs told Epping Forest District Council the new hospital would have 76 assessment beds in the emergency department compared with 27 in the current building.

Overall, the new hospital would see a 10 per cent increase in beds, with room for a further expansion of 20 per cent in the future, the executives said at a meeting on December 7.

But any further work has been delayed until the new year, as the trust waits for a government review to be completed.

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This comes after the Care Quality Commission revealed inspectors had to intervene in the current emergency department to ensure ill patients waiting in corridors received care.

Director of strategy and estates Michael Meredith said the ten per cent expansion was based on detailed modelling, but the trust has also allowed space for a further increase to accommodate for future growth.

He told the meeting: “We can expand that significantly, we can add another 20 per cent of beds without having any impact on the way the hospital runs or works.

“That would require more capital at a later date, but again our balance is about getting enough money now to get funded.”

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Mr Meredith also said clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) would receive extra funding in the future to cope with a growing population.

The design brief for the hospital has been completed and accommodation for overnight doctors had been incorporated into the design.

But further progress has been delayed until the government has finished a “design conversion review”.

This review aims to promote similar design and construction methods across the eight sites that form the government’s New Hospital Programme, according to a council statement.

Councillors also challenged the executives over the recent CQC inspection of the current hospital, which was published earlier this month.

The report rated Princess Alexandra’s emergency department “inadequate” and said several incidents were escalated by inspectors to ensure patients received care, including one which was “potentially life threatening”.

At the council meeting, Chief Operating Officer Stephanie Lawton said: “If the CQC came in tomorrow what would they see? 

“They would absolutely see our teams providing the safest, most high quality care that they can possibly provide under the circumstances of a busy and pressurised emergency department and those pressures have continued since the CQC came to visit us.”

The new hospital is planned for close to Junction 7a of the M11.

The current building is in Harlow, but serves residents from neighbouring districts such as Epping Forest.

Work is expected to restart in the new year.