HEALTH chiefs’ plans to shake up hospital care in Winchester were heard last night (THURS).

Approximately 100 people attended the public meeting, chaired by Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine, and had the opportunity to quiz bosses on plans to centralise hospital care between Winchester and Basingstoke.

The meeting heard how the proposed central hospital, to be built on an unknown site, would cater for 15 per cent of hospital patients, those being the most sick, with the other 85 per cent continuing to be treated at either North Hampshire or Royal Hampshire County Hospitals.

The new ‘critical treatment’ hospital would cost £120 million, take two and a half years to build and spend £7 million annually in running costs, but won’t create any new jobs and will mean fewer hospital beds across the Hampshire Hospitals area - down from the current 900.

Mary Edwards, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust, said the centralised system would create a more efficient service, operating specialist centres from one site instead of the current two, giving ambulances easier access to critical units.

“This is about delivering and improving services in general hospitals. The 15 per cent sickest patients will be taken to the right site and will be treated more quickly with the correct treatment and specialist care.”

However, a question from a Mr Hugh in the audience prompted applause. He said: “Land at Winchester hospital has been sold off for non-medical purposes - I see student flats there. Why is it that you are saying there is not enough space to build on our existing facilities?”

Ms Edwards said: “Centralisation in Winchester is not the right answer for the whole population, the physical location is not ideal and is too close to Southampton General.”

The two sites optioned for consultation are North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke, or the ‘green triangle’ site - somewhere between the M3, A303 and A34.

MP Steve Brine said building the centre in Basingstoke would not be effective.

“Basingstoke is not an option for me because it’s too far away and will compromise services and patient care for the people in my constituency,” he said.

“By building at either Winchester or Basingstoke the centre of gravity is too far at either end.”

Concerns were also raised about access for families or the sick, but Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Bishop said careful consideration was being given to the location and planning permission would be unattainable without a sufficient travel plan.

He said: “The amount of time that people will be spending in the hospital will be minimal, because they will be treated quickly.

“We want to minimise the amount of time that people spend in hospital, and therefore there will not be as great a need for visitors as we used to see in the old days.”

The panel also included Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust Associate Director of Midwifery and Women’s Health Caroline Brunt and Dr Nigel Sylvester, from the West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group.