STAFF members fear that a shake-up of surgery services provided at Winchester hospital will have a negative impact on patient care and result in job losses - despite counter-claims from the managing trust.

The transformation of orthopaedics at Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust (HHFT), which manages Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH), was implemented on December 4 and concerns have already been raised by those working on the unit.

The changes mean that inpatient trauma operations no longer take place at Winchester, instead walk-in patients, quite often in pain, are forced to travel over 20 miles to Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital (BNH) for emergency surgery on broken bones. Those who are brought to hospital by ambulance are being taken to the Basingstoke hospital directly.

Despite the public engagement process running until February, the trust, as previously reported, is “testing some of these ideas early in order to provide better care this winter”.

However, a member of staff, who wished not to be named, approached the Chronicle with claims that team leading the reconfiguration “have glossed over important details which could and will put patient safety at risk”.

They said: “Trauma patients who require admission or surgery will now have to be treated at BNH. This will increase the suffering of patients as they face longer journeys to hospital especially those who live south of Winchester such as Bishop’s Waltham, Fair Oak and Eastleigh.

“Unfortunately patients have no choice or say in the matter. It is unclear if a fair and open public consultation has actually taken place prior to the implementation of the project.”

The changes are affecting all trauma patients who need admissions or surgical intervention, those who can be treated as out-patients will continue to be cared for at RHCH.

And the morale of staff working at the trauma and orthopaedics unit at RHCH is said to be “very low”, with uncertainties over redundancies.

The staff member continued: “Staff are worried about potential job losses especially the nurses who are involved in trauma care at RHCH. Some experienced staff have already left including a number who are highly experienced. Staff are also concerned about negative impact on patient care and safety due to the delay in providing necessary and prompt care.

“While doctors are expected to work at both sites, there are however uncertainties regarding nurses who are yet to find out how will the change impact on them.”

Julie Maskery, chief operating officer at HHFT, said that despite concerns there have been no redundancies made, but the trust did not confirm whether any would be made in the future.

“We are excited about this new service model for trauma and orthopaedic care, which incorporates the very latest thinking based on national best practice and will enable us to provide the best possible care for all of our patients,” Ms Maskery said.

“Throughout this process we have engaged and consulted with our staff; integrating their thoughts and comments into our plans. We have also worked closely with our partners at Hampshire County Council, and are currently collecting feedback from affected patients.”

She added: “A dedicated ambulance is available to transfer patients between the sites, though – if it is assessed as safe – patients are able to make their own arrangements.”