ON June 4 this column, headlined ‘The future of the NHS in Winchester’ , noted the public consultation on the future of local healthcare across Winchester, Andover and Basingstoke.

Senior staff at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital have spoken to his newspaper and warned that this exercise will herald the gradual removal of key services from the RHCH, including its A&E and maternity units.

This is something that has been being discussed for years, if not decades. Senior clinicians have in public pointed out the lack of finances to properly cover specialisms at both Winchester and Basingstoke.

Healthcare staff with a penchant for conspiracy theories speculate that the consultation is being carried out whilst NHS workers and the public are exhausted from the coronavirus pandemic. That is far-fetched, the consultation has been planned for months. But there is no doubt that if a new hospital is built somewhere in this area, the irresistible logical momentum will be to try to remove services from the RHCH site in Winchester. It is up to the public to make their feelings known.