FEARS have been expressed about the future of Winchester's health care services after it was revealed that a new state £150million critical treatment hospital north of Winchester looks set to be scraped.

The hospital, a joint venture by North Hampshire and West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) that would have centralised Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) A&E and critical care services between Winchester, Andover and Basingstoke, has been deemed "not affordable".

The option to build the hospital on a greenfield site near junction 7 of the M3 was part of a review looking at how to improve community care services in north and mid-Hampshire.

A document released earlier this week ahead of a CCG board meeting being held today outlined recommendations that a standalone critical treatment hospital will not be progressed.

The report also recommended that the CCGs continue to develop proposals for the centralisation of HHFT health care services at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) in Winchester, the Andover War Memorial Hospital and North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke, including "exploring any necessary capital development to support relocation of services".

Lib Dem city and county councillor Martin Tod said: "It’s very disappointing that so much NHS money has been spent on this project with nothing to show for it at the end. Questions need to be asked as to why it all went on so long. The money spent on this project could have been spent on cutting the time it takes to get an appointment with a GP.

"I’m now extremely worried about the financial position of our local NHS and care services. The NHS’s sustainability and transformation plan STP for Hampshire requires HHFT to cut £60m in costs by 2020/21.

"At the same time Conservative MPs, ministers and councillors have decided to strip £49 million out of Hampshire’s adult social care budget in 2019/20, which will put our local NHS under even more pressure."

Alex Whitfield, HHFT chief executive, added: "We completely support the commissioners’ focus on improving the care that is available outside of hospital; this is great news for the people of Hampshire. We are naturally disappointed that the recommendation to the commissioners' meeting is not to consult with the public on a critical treatment hospital at this time.

"The joint work, completed this year, recognised that this proposal would improve quality and accessibility for our patients, but has concluded that it is not affordable with the current ambitious assumptions around spending less on hospital services.

"In the meantime, our dedicated and compassionate staff will continue to focus on providing great care for our patients within our existing buildings."

If the recommendations are agreed, work will be carried out by HHFT to review the care services at its three hospitals with the aim of developing new proposals by the end of February to reconfigure services.

Responding to the news, Winchester MP Steve Brine said: “We have to maintain a sensible and balanced discussion about the future of acute care that, above all else, ensures the local NHS is there when we’re acutely unwell.

“My hunch for some time now has been that a new build is unlikely which, while hugely frustrating, at least gives us clarity.

"We now have to focus on securing the RHCH by supporting the local NHS to deliver its STP and press for much needed capital investment on the Winchester and Basingstoke sites.”

Following the release of the document, Dr Sarah Schofield, chairman of West Hampshire CCG, said that efforts should now be focussed on improving care out of hospital, adding: "This should help to manage the growing demand on the acute hospitals.”

  • The CCG board meeting will be taking place at The United Church in Jewry Street, Winchester, from 10am today.