WINCHESTER residents grilled Hampshire Hospital bosses over the impact of losing the Royal Hampshire County Hospital’s accident and emergency department.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board (ICB) and Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) held a meeting at Weeke Community Centre to hear feedback from Winchester residents on its new proposals to improve service across the county.

Despite the trust and ICB explaining that merging some of the services in Winchester and Basingstoke would improve hospital experiences and provide faster care, residents continue to feel that the loss of Winchester’s A&E is unnecessary.

READ MORE: NHS to launch consultation over new hospital in Hampshire

Hampshire Chronicle: The booked out eventThe booked out event (Image: Adele Bouchard)

John James, from Weeke, was turned away at the door due to not having a ticket. The event was fully booked out with 70 people attending as well as 13 people on the waiting list.

Mr James, 28, who uses the Royal Hampshire County Hospital regularly, said: “It’s sad we were turned away because we wanted to take part. Most of the people in Winchester using the hospital are over 60 so how on earth can they be expected to travel to Basingstoke? Some people are already waiting for hours for an ambulance – is this going to increase under the new proposals?

“If they shut the A&E, they are going to shut the hospital as well as it’s such an old building.”

The trust clarified that its proposals are to invest between £89 million and £141 million in Winchester hospital, which would have a new dedicated planned surgery centre, a doctor-led 24/7 urgent treatment centre, same day emergency care services, inpatient beds, and a midwife-led birthing unit.

Hampshire Chronicle: John JamesJohn James (Image: Adele Bouchard)

HHFT announced its plans to invest between £700m and £900m across the county into hospital services in November.

All three proposed options would see Winchester’s A&E department replaced by an urgent treatment centre and a new acute specialist hospital built in Basingstoke.

SEE ALSO: Concerns aired about Hampshire hospital plans

During the consultation event speakers, including Alex Whitfield, chief executive of HHFT, Dr Lara Alloway - chief medical officer (CMO) for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, interim chief medical officer Dr Nick Ward and Caroline Morison, chief strategy and transformation officer, explained the options and what they would mean for patients.

The panel revealed they hope to make a decision by Autumn of this year and begin refurbishing Royal Hampshire County Hospital before the new hospital is built in 2032.

Former pharmacist Ginny Ward, 64, of Main Road in Littleton, said: “The proposals are disastrous for the residents of Winchester, it’s completely dismantling our acute services and making people take much longer journeys.

Hampshire Chronicle: Ginny WardGinny Ward (Image: Adele Bouchard)

“Southampton is going to be busier and paramedics will be taking more people. It could destabilise our whole system. It’s great if you live in Basingstoke but not here.”

Chantelle Cousins, of Sleepers Hill, was there to gain support for her campaign to save the A&E which she launched two years ago. Her petition already has around 14,000 signatures.

Hampshire Chronicle: Chantelle CousinsChantelle Cousins (Image: Adele Bouchard)

Chantelle, 42, who works as a marketing manager, said: “There are 130,000 residents in the city, 660,000 visitors every year, 8,000 students and four housing developments on the table too. It’s not safe or sensible to get rid of our A&E.

“People in the NHS say there isn’t any land available but I’ve spoken to developers who have said they haven’t even been approached.

“These events are not well advertised and are held at times impossible for people in full-time jobs or with kids to get to.”

Heidi Coetzee, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in June, is fearful future patients won’t receive the same quality care as she has if services are centralised.

Hampshire Chronicle: Heidi CoetzeeHeidi Coetzee (Image: Adele Bouchard)

Heidi, 55, who lives by the Henry Beaufort School, said: “With all the wonderful side effects of chemo you need an A&E on your doorstep. There is no way being blue-lighted on the M3, where there are accidents all the time, will get to Basingstoke in good time.”

Danny Chambers, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, is prioritising healthcare for his campaign to become Winchester’s next MP.

READ ALSO: The future of the Royal Hampshire County Hospital

Hampshire Chronicle: Danny ChambersDanny Chambers (Image: Adele Bouchard)

He said: “You can see how concerned people are. Everyone is worried about the NHS in general. One reason people are going to A&E is because they are struggling to get a GP appointment. Another issue is the delivery of social care – people are left in hospital because social care isn’t in place, increasing waiting lists.

“We can’t wait until 2032, we need action now. There are fears about how these proposals will fit into transport and infrastructure.”

Speaking after the event, Dr Alex Whitfield said: “It’s been really good to hear diverse feedback from lots of different people. The energy level has been really high. We’re spending public money so we need to make sure we are spending it well and properly.

“We need to explain to people what we are offering and what we think the future is going to look like. It’s our job to make it clear. I’m not surprised people are feeling anxious but we are trying to do the very best for them.”

The consultation is open until midnight on March 17, with more in-person events planned in the meantime. The next Winchester event will be at Hope Church from 2-4pm on March 6.

For more information or to comment on the consultation go to