PLANS to improve the A&E unit in Winchester have been unveiled.

Health bosses have confirmed they are looking at improving  the department at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH).

The news comes after concerns over the future of the A&E in the city were raised in 2017, when plans for a new £150m critical treatment hospital near junction 7 of the M3 were shelved, in favour of alternative centralisation proposals.

But now new investments in the A&E have been confirmed in a bid to improve the services to meet local needs.

The plans are at very early stage and were mentioned at a meeting of the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee held at Hampshire County Council last week.

During the meeting, Winchester City Council councillor Jan Warwick asked health bosses if there were plans for an urgent treatment centre in the city as a similar facility is set to open in Andover.

But health bosses said that plans for Winchester would be about redesigning the A&E.

Following the meeting, Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire Hospitals, said: “The pressure on healthcare services, particularly A&E is ever increasing. A collaboration of local healthcare providers has come together, and includes commissioners, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, community and mental health partners, GPs in primary care, adult social services and the ambulance service to focus on this issue.

“The thinking is at the very earliest stages, but at its heart is a commitment to the emergency department at Winchester, and improving and developing the service to meet local need. The vision is to make sure people get the right care, at the right time in the right place – within and after their hospital care. ”

Ms Whitfield said other steps are being taken to improve the services in the city and include a new Rapid Assessment and Treatment (RAT) unit and Paediatric Assessment Units (PAU).

The RAT came into operation at the beginning of April and provides a designated area for the emergency department team to take rapid handover from ambulances and begin initial assessments and treatments for patients.

Meanwhile, the PAU is set to be completed over the coming weeks.

“The Paediatric Assessment Units (PAU) are part of the improvement works to ensure younger patients are cared for in a purpose-built area, away from other older patients in the department”, Ms Whitfield said.

She added: “The unit in Basingstoke, which has been operational from the end of January, is already proving to support the emergency department and paediatric staff in delivering high quality care to patients.”

The news of the further improvements to the A&E was welcomed by city council leader Caroline Horrill.

Cllr Horrill said: “The improvement to the A&E is to be welcomed. We are concerned that we give the best service to our residents. It is good news. Winchester residents will be delighted to know that the hospital is being improved.”