HOSPITALS in Essex will stop all non-time critical appointments from tomorrow to focus on cases of coronavirus.

In a joint statement, Broomfield, Basildon and Southend Hospital said they would also reduce the number of routine operations over the next three weeks.

They said: "In order to free up staff to help our response to coronavirus we are stopping all non-time critical outpatient appointments and x-rays, CT, MRI, ultrasound scans and nuclear medicine from Monday 23 March.

"We will also be reducing the number of routine operations and procedures over the next three weeks.

"We will continue to provide outpatient appointments, scans and procedures for patients who need them urgently, for example patients with suspected or confirmed cancer.

"We will provide these initial outpatient consultations over the phone or by video link.

"We will contact all patients affected by these changes over the next two weeks, by phone or letter, to confirm what they need to do.

"If you have an urgent query about your appointment please contact"