PLANS for a new critical treatment hospital are vital to keep a Hampshire NHS trust afloat financially.

Speaking about the creation of the hospital at the annual general meeting of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, chief executive Mary Edwards told attendees: “If we do nothing, we go broke. If we do this, we survive.”

The meeting heard that the total cost of delivering the hospital is expected to be £150million, which includes £120million to build the state-of-the-art centre.

However, Andrew Bishop, medical director, said that the income generated by the creation of the new hospital would benefit HHFT to the tune of around £12million every year.

The meeting heard that the trust had fought to balance its books in the last financial year, and that it faces further financial challenges. It runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

Mrs Edwards said: “We have the same amount of money, but it has to go further and further. Hospitals are facing the same problems all over the country, it is no secret.”

As previously reported, the hospital, which will be built between the M3, A303 and A34, will treat the sickest 15 per cent of patients, for example those suffering from strokes or heart attacks or those who have been in serious accidents.

It one of two options currently on the table for treating critically ill patients- the other, less popular option is to build on the Basingstoke hospital site.

Dr Bishop set out a timetable for the construction of the hospital at the meeting.

A loan application should be made in October, with a public consultation beginning shortly afterwards. A planning application will be lodged in spring 2015, with a financial review taking place at the end of next year.

It is anticipated that the construction will begin in the middle of 2016 and will be complete in autumn 2018.

Dr Bishop said: “We have done a lot of work on public engagement. We would hope this will be open in two-and-a-half years.”