FUNDING to the tune of £550million to carry out a major rebuild at Winchester hospital could be secured by health chiefs, according to the city’s MP.

The trust that runs Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) has been allocated a share of £100million in seed funding to formulate a bid for a significant investment.

The initial money from the Department of Health and Social Care is part of the government’s finance for hospitals on a rolling five-year basis.

With the Romsey Road facility falling in the second batch of sites alongside Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital (BNHH), Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust (HHFT) will receive several million pounds to develop their business case.

Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine said the seed funding could lead to an eventual cash boost in the region of £550million for the city’s hospital.

The former health minister said the finance presented a tangible backing from both the NHS and government in Winchester.

He said: “In recent years I’ve successfully lobbied for small amounts of funding, for instance to improve the emergency department or relocate the hospital pharmacy team.

“They are all really important to the patient experience but this is on a totally different scale and will secure long-term, safe and sustainable services at the RHCH. It’s a huge vote of confidence in Winchester from the Government and the NHS.

“I am regularly in the hospital, meeting clinicians and senior management and was just on Friday actually. I will look forward to working closely with the trust as we develop plans to transform the RHCH for the benefit of my constituents over many years to come. This is what an experienced and effective constituency MP is able to deliver.”

On Monday, Mr Brine told the House of Commons the city was “keen to get cracking” with formulating plans and asked health minister Edward Argar to confirm the funding was a vote of confidence in the hospital.

Mr Argar said: “I agree entirely that its inclusion in this list is a vote of confidence from us and the NHS in the work his local hospital is doing.”

HHFT is yet to decided what their plan will involve and did not comment on potential costs for the project.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of HHFT, which runs RHCH and BNHH, said: “I am delighted that Hampshire Hospitals has been selected as one of the trusts that will receive central funding as part of phase two of the Department of Health and Social Care’s Health Infrastructure Plan.

“Our hospitals are in real need of investment and we are already exploring ways that we can provide a more modern environment, designed for the needs of our patients and staff both today and in the future.

“This funding from the Department of Health and Social Care will enable us to accelerate this work. We are looking forward to establishing what our plans will look like, working with our staff, patients and the public to ensure that we create a healthcare infrastructure that is fit for the future.”