HEALTH chiefs want to build a new £70m hospital — to include a state-of-the-art cancer treatment centre — in an area north of Winchester, the Hampshire Chronicle can reveal.
While bosses at the Hampshire Hospitals’ NHS Foundation Trust stress no site has yet been identified, they are looking to build the specialist emergency hospital in an area of land encircled by the A34, A303 and M3.
The news comes as the trust — which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, Basingstoke Hospital and Andover War Memorial Hospital — has launched a separate campaign to raise £5m to build the ground-breaking cancer unit.
Medics behind the ambitious scheme, previously reported in the Chronicle in February, say the support of local people is key to the campaign’s success.
The cancer centre campaign — supported by the Hampshire Chronicle and sister Newsquest titles the Basingstoke Gazette and Andover Advertiser, is to be officially launched tomorrow (Friday).
Merv Rees, clinical director of surgery at the trust and consultant surgeon, is leading the initiative.
He said: “Cancer is something which touches almost every single household in some way.
“This centre is something our team are really passionate about, and we want local people in Winchester, Basingstoke and Andover to get behind it.
“We want to create a centre which people will walk into and say ‘wow’.”
Mr Rees added: “No matter how big or how small each fundraising event is, it all adds up. It all helps to spread the word and raise money.”
The centre, which it is hoped would open in three years, will offer vital treatments such as radiotherapy, alongside palliative care and more general support, including hair care, beauty treatments, financial and employment advice.
The cancer centre will cost £18m to build — £13m coming from the trust — with the campaign team hoping the remaining £5m will be found through the generosity of the public.
The trust hopes to raise the £13m through a foundation trust financing facility, rather than through the controversial Private Finance Iniative.
Meanwhile, the main hospital will treat thousands of critically-ill patients from Winchester, Basingstoke and Andover, including trauma injuries, heart attack victims and strokes. Proposals also include a helipad.
Less serious A&E patients will go to Winchester’s RHCH and Basingstoke’s North Hampshire Hospital.
The new hospital would have between 200 and 300 beds, around 10 per cent of which would be intensive care, and eight operating theatres.
The plan is to have specialist A&E consultants, CT and MRI scanners working 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. It is estimated it will be used to treat about 75,000 patients a year, 15 per cent of those currently treated at the three hospital sites.
Winchester MP Steve Brine has cautiously welcomed the plans.
He said: “If the new trust can deliver a world-class facility, combining acute care and specialist cancer treatment that gives my constituents the best possible chance when they fall ill, that is more than welcome.
“But the trust are acutely aware that it goes hand-in-hand with high-quality outpatient services, emergency care and the full range of maternity services at the RHCH.”
Douglas Patterson, chairman of The Dever Society, said: “We know very little about this because it has only been rumour up to now.
“The Dever Society supports appropriate and responsible development in our area. There is a clear difference between this sort of proposal and more opportunistic developments driven by private gain of the type we have been fighting recently like EDF’s plans for a wind farm, the waste plant, and proposed new town.
“We would hope to see a sensitive and well-designed development that did not harm the rural character of the area.
“We recognise our responsibility if there is a community need for the hospital and cancer centre to accommodate it.”
But he warned: “This area is highly valued because of the countryside and landscape, but it is under constant pressure from development.”
For more information about the cancer centre appeal, or how to get involved in fundraising, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01256 360419.