Having, until very recently, been a senior consultant at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester and, having also been directly involved in the advanced planning, less than a decade ago, when the healthcare centralisation plans were progressed (wasting the tax-payer an eight-figure sum in the process). 

I feel very well placed to comment on the ‘exciting’ (their words, not mine) plans for the future provision of healthcare for Hampshire, announced by the HHFT and ICB senior management last week.

The published options all involve radical downgrading of acute medical services on the current RHCH site, including the closure of its A&E and loss of the consultant-led maternity service (they also involve loss of neonatal and 24/7 consultant paediatric, anaesthetic and intensive care cover).

The rapidly expanding population of Winchester and its surrounds should be under no illusion as to what life, with only a minor injuries unit and a midwifery-led delivery service will actually be like.

The declared ‘preferred option,’ to build the new acute treatment centre on the previously secured site off Junction 7 of the M3, is a fanciful appeasement exercise. It certainly hardly represents the claimed ‘central’ option. It would also herald the impossible task of safely staffing a fourth hospital site.

Flick Drummond the current Meon Valley MP, in her published ‘Letter from Westminster,’ (Chronicle, December 7) neglected to even mention future plans for the maternity service on the RHCH site. 
Given the distances involved, would her constituents (or indeed anyone living in, or south of Winchester) really elect to drive to Dummer or beyond, rather than access services at Portsmouth or Southampton? 

I fully support plans to build a new, state-of-the-art acute medical facility in this area of Hampshire. 
However, I and, I believe, the vast majority of the brilliant senior clinicians and other current staff at RHCH believe that building it at Dummer, or on the current BNH site, would be to their and the population of Winchester’s direct detriment.

This is indeed a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity; an opportunity the population of Winchester must seize to ensure their future access to safe and convenient medical care. Wise-up Winchester. Before it is too late.

Martyn Pitman,
Ex consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist,
South Wonston

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