THE impact of previous investment in Winchester hospital has been praised by a health minister during a visit to the site this week as hospital chiefs begin to build their case for a major cash windfall.

Minister of State for Care Caroline Dinenage spent time at several departments across Royal Hampshire County Hospital on Monday.

She met with staff and discussed the future plans for healthcare in the county.

The visit came just a week after the body which runs the hospital, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT), was announced as one of 21 trusts to receive seed funding to work up major plans for building improvements.

Ms Dinenage said: “I was honoured to visit Royal Hampshire County Hospital and hear how staff from Hampshire Hospitals are working with partners including Southern Health and Hampshire County Council to modernise services and provide the best possible care.

“It is vital that our hospitals are well equipped to support patients’ individual health needs and ensure the best possible outcomes. I was pleased to hear that the seed funding allocated to the Trust last week as part of the Health Infrastructure Plan will support Hampshire Hospitals to transform local health services and develop detailed plans that allow the best quality services to be delivered in the right place at the right time.”

As previously reported, Winchester and Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine, who joined Ms Dinenage at the hospital, claimed this could lead to a £550million rebuild carried out between 2025 and 2020 at the Romsey Road site, if its bid to the government is successful.

During her visit, Ms Dinenage was shown Burrell House, a historic but currently unused building on the hospital site, for which fundraising is underway to create Winchester Hospice.

She then went to the emergency department, where she was able to see new areas that were completed earlier this year with funding from the Department of Health and Social Care.

Finally, the MP for Gosport visited a ward caring for elderly patients, where she heard how HHFT staff work in partnership with colleagues from Southern Health and Hampshire County Council to make sure that patients with long term conditions are in the best place to receive the support they require.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of HHFT, said: “We were really pleased to welcome Caroline to Winchester hospital and showcase some of the ways that we are working to provide the best possible care for the people of Hampshire.

“We are 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 from 2025.

“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 seed funding provides a fantastic opportunity for us to develop more detailed plans working with our local communities, our partners and our staff.”