NORTH East Essex is one of "probably the most homophobic, racist, awful, place to live in this country" according to Colchester Hospital's chief executive.

During a round table discussion organised by the Health Service Journal, Nick Hulme hit out at views held by some patients in the area and urged people to challenge them.

He said it was “not by accident” Clacton elected then UKIP MP Douglas Carswell in 2014.

“The single most important issue in any election for the last six years has always been ‘immigrants’ as they’re described by our local population," he said.

“They are quite happy to sit around and talk about 'bloody foreigners' and 'those poofs' that live at the end of the road."

READ MORE: Nick Hulme says racist and homophobic accusations relate to 'tiny minority'

Mr Hulme said the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust had more diverse workforce than a patient group and urged fellow chief executives to challenge racist and homophobic abuse from staff and patients.

He added: "We have some of the most right wing, bigoted, racist and homophobic remarks and behaviours certainly in north east Essex.

"How do you deal with a patient who says they refuse to be treated by a black nurse which is not uncommon?

“How do we challenge that as leaders? 

"How do we challenge our staff when they make those comments? 

"Do we reflect the community we serve or do we challenge the community we serve? 

"I think we have a responsibility to challenge some of that.”

NHS executives from across the country attended the annual event organised by the journal which looks at issues facing the health service.

This year's theme was diversity and inclusion which led to a broader discussion about racism, homophobia and other discrimination found in hospitals and further afield.