SENIOR staff have raised fears that local NHS chiefs have plans to close major departments at Winchester hospital, which they say could lead to the site being downgraded.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Romsey Road site, has begun work with partner health bodies to create a new hospital speculated to cost around £700million to build.

But staff at Winchester hospital have aired concerns that this could result in the city facility losing some of its vital services, from A&E to consultant-led maternity, as the trust says that running duplicate services in Winchester and Basingstoke has challenges.

One member of staff, who asked not to be named, said: “They have said that almost all of Basingstoke hospital is falling apart and needs to be taken down, but Winchester hospital is not that bad.”

The member of staff speculated that: “Basingstoke hospital is going to be pulled down and the big new hospital will be built there, and Winchester would be downgraded.

“They keep saying this is an engagement exercise but trouble is they haven’t said to any staff or any public that we could be losing Winchester services so no one is engaging.”

They continued: “At the moment it feels like it is all happening whilst we are trying to reorganise services after the Covid peak that is still making everything chaotic – it feels really unfair and underhand.

“My concern is that if we haven’t got and A&E we have no need for an ICU and emergency services, but if we have maternity they need overnight operating theatres and if we have A&E we need overnight operating theatres.

“I would like them to be a bit more honest rather than someone in secret making a plan and then presenting it.”

Another member of staff said: “Management seem to be heading down the same road as before, making a show of engaging with staff and public but pushing the supposed consultation out during the Covid-19 outbreak with overworked, overwhelmed staff too exhausted to get involved.

“Local MPs are being told that staff are all onboard where the truth is that most people are unaware of the advanced stage planning has reached. This is particularly frustrating because there is no needs assessment nor accurate options appraisal.

“The proposals are based on the same flawed solution to a problem specific to Basingstoke that involves undermining the services in Winchester and Andover.

“The original plans were simply a vanity project for the egocentric HHFT management while current plans are driven by desperation to spend government money rather than provide the best solutions for healthcare to the people of Hampshire.”

It comes as the trust will hold a public engagement session on Saturday focusing on emergency care.

The trust says that the current system provides a number of challenges, solutions to which will need to be found as part of the Hampshire Together programme.

A trust spokesperson added: “We understand that people hold strong views when it comes to the provision of services such as emergency and maternity care – and this has been borne out in the engagement work we have carried out so far. However, it is important to note that at this stage of the process we have a blank sheet of paper in terms of where the new hospital will be located, which services will be run from it, what will happen at the current sites and which services will be run in community settings.

“We are in the middle of an extensive programme of staff, patient and public engagement, which is an opportunity for everyone across mid and north Hampshire to give us their views, ideas and input. This is really important to us and the feedback we receive will have a real impact on our decision-making process as we work towards our ambition of providing not just an amazing new hospital, but a state-of-the-art health system to match.”

A public engagement will be held focussing on Winchester at 8pm on Thursday, July 9, register at