A SHAKE-UP of surgery services provided at Winchester hospital is to be tested before the end of consultations with the public.

Less emergency orthopaedic operations could be carried out at Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester which could instead become a “centre of excellence” for planned operations such as hip and knee replacements.

The move which is part of a major plan to be delivered by Hampshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) is now set to be tested this winter while consultations with staff, public and stakeholders will be ongoing.

As previously reported, hospital bosses denied the move would happen without a consultation.

But at a meeting of the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASC) held at the county council in Winchester on Monday, they said they want to introduce some changes this winter in a bid to reduce the number of operations cancelled due to beds shortage in winter months.

When asked if public consultations had been held, Alex Whitfield, chief executive at HHFT, said the public had been informed but they could have done more consultations on this specific proposal.

“We recognise there iss a gap and we want to do that [more consultations] in the next couple of months. The reason why we are bringing this here is because we want to try this this winter but we will do engagement during that time," said Ms Whitfield.

According to the proposals, planned orthopaedic operations which require a stay in hospital would be done in Winchester while people who will need an emergency orthopaedic operation could be sent to the “nearest acute hospital that has the right specialist consultant capability”.

It is believed the change would see many residents having to travel to Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital (BNHH) should they require emergency surgery on broken bones.

The trust said informal and internal consultations over the proposed changes have already been held but there will be further engagement events.

Talking to HASC members Jenny Erwin, director of commissioning at West Hampshire CCG, said: “What we want to do is to test a broad range of ideas. We already have a close community link. Our engagement program is very broad and deep and it will allow us over the next couple of months to understand the impact on people.”

According to a timeline published by the trust, a review of the feedback received will be done between December and March while some changes would be implemented. The final service model is expected to be implemented in April 2020.