A ROMSEY councillor has added his voice to the increasing concerns about the potential closure of Winchester's A&E unit.

The NHS is consulting on proposals for a new hospital in or near Basingstoke and the downgrading of some services at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

As part of the multi-million development the RHCH will be downgraded including the closure of the A&E unit and the change of Florence Portal House to be midwife-led instead of by consultants.

The RHCH A&E unit would be replaced by a 24/7 doctor and nurse-led treatment centre.

Although the current A&E would close, many services will be retained including a planned surgery centre and outpatients.

READ MORE: 'It's disappointing': residents criticise plans to close city centre A&E

The value of the restructuring and the proposed development is estimated at between £700-900m.

Hampshire Chronicle: Cllr Geoff Cooper

Cllr Geoff Cooper said: “There are real concerns that the closure of the A&E department at Winchester will put extra pressure on Southampton General. This is particularly worrying as recent figures show that many patients are waiting over four hours for treatment at Southampton.

“To place additional burden on these already overstretched services is unacceptable and puts lives at risk. It is clear that Southampton is already overstretched and the closure of Winchester will simply add to its pressures.

“The consultation states that there will still be a centre, in Winchester, open 24 hours a day for minor injuries but experience from other parts of the country shows that when this has been promised the opening hours are soon shortened.

“I am also concerned about the plans to close the consultant-led maternity unit. It is good that there will be a midwife-led unit on site but many women who choose a midwife-led birth like the extra reassurance of having a consultant close at hand, in case things do not go according to plan. Ultimately, this is less choice for women and our constituents deserve better.”

Maggie MacIsaac, chief executive of NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, said: “These exciting proposals provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve hospital facilities and hospital services and enable our colleagues to provide the very best care for people who need it.

“The proposals have been designed by clinicians, with patients, and are based on clinical evidence and best practice. At their heart is the need to deliver safe, high-quality services, sustainable for the future, with sufficient specialist staff to run services well.

“At this stage, they are still proposals. We are keen to hear what people think of the options we are putting forward, how the proposals could impact on them, and where they think they could be improved.”