FEARS that there is no funding to build a new hospital for Basingstoke have been raised after an inquiry found ‘no confidence’ that the government will deliver on its promise.

The highly critical Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, which raised concerns about the lack of progress to build 40 new hospitals, said that the current funding for the New Hospital Programme (NHP) does not include Basingstoke hospital.

The report, which said under-investment in the NHS estate has resulted in a situation that requires ‘urgent action’, said that the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) told the committee that the current funding for the NHP “does not include hospitals scheduled to commence reconstruction in the 2020s but to complete after 2030s”.

It adds: “That would mean substantially more funding being required from HM Treasury to build the eight cohort 4 schemes that were recently delayed into the 2030s.”

The project for Basingstoke, which would see a hospital built at either the current hospital site in Aldermaston Road or land at Junction 7 of the M3, is included in cohort 4.

READ MORE: New Basingstoke hospital one of eight projects delayed until 2030s

A public consultation launched in December inviting people to have their say on plans to build a new hospital for Basingstoke, after the government announced in May 2023 that Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) had been awarded £800m for the project. 

However, fears have been raised that the work could all be for nothing if the funds are not available.

Stacy Hart, the Women’s Equality Party (WE) borough council election candidate for Hatch Warren and Beggarwood, has launched a petition calling for Basingstoke MP Maria Miller to ‘show us the money’ and make sure the new hospital is funded in the Spring Budget on March 6.

She said: “Maria Miller MP has made promise after promise about £900 million of “ringfenced” funds being “secured” for the new hospital. But reports from the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee paint a different picture. They have recommended that any funding promises are to be put in writing.

“WE think it’s time for our local MP to show us the money. Verbal assurances are not enough, that’s why we are calling on Dame Miller to prove in writing that the money she claims is “secured” will deliver for the people of Basingstoke.”

The petition, which has so far been signed by more than 130 people, is being supported by a cross-section of political parties in Basingstoke.

SEE ALSO: New £800m specialist acute hospital to be built in Basingstoke

Cllr John McKay, cabinet member for communities, partnerships and inclusion, said: “Basingstoke and Deane Liberal Democrats fully support the provision of a new hospital for Basingstoke and support this petition that aims to make sure the hospital is fully funded in the Spring Budget on 6th March."

Basingstoke and North East Hants Green Party co-chair, Jonathan Jenkin, said: “Locally and nationally, we need to hold politicians to account for their promises and ensure residents are fully informed. We agree with WEP Basingstoke that Conservative wording on the hospital funding is misleading; we stand with them in asking for written confirmation of this funding and thank them for their work on this issue.”

Stacy added: “Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust (HHFT) has done remarkable work to prepare for the project, local staff deserve a building fit for purpose, and residents want an NHS that is able to meet their needs.

"We are urging people to sign the petition, and to complete the ongoing HHFT consultation so that we get the best service possible if we do get this funding confirmed and delivered.”

Dame Meg Hillier MP, chair of the PAC, said the current state of the New Hospital Programme is "bitterly disappointing".

In a statement in the report, she said: “The physical edifice that is the NHS is quite literally crumbling before our eyes. There was nothing inevitable about this heartbreaking crisis. It can be laid squarely at the door of the decision to raid budgets reserved for maintenance and investment in favour of day-to-day spending. The sharp distinction between capital and revenue budgets exists for a reason. We are now seeing the consequences of this short-termism visited on patients and services.

"In such circumstances, then, it is bitterly disappointing to report on the current state of the NHP. Quite aside from the fact that the planned new hospitals risk being too small for future purposes, funding does not even appear to be in place to construct them in time."

She added: "Though we have no confidence that the NHP will deliver on its current promises, we hope that the recommendations in our report help to get it back on track - for the sake of all citizens who desperately need the NHS to get well soon.”

The PAC recommends that HM Treasury should agree explicitly in writing whether the cohort 4 schemes are to be met from the current agreed funding. 

You can find the petition with further information and references to the reports from the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee at bit.ly/wephospitalpetition.

Maria Miller, HHFT, Hampshire Together and the DHSC have all been asked for a comment.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive at HHFT, said: “We were delighted to receive a letter in May 2023 confirming that we are part of the government’s New Hospital Programme with a committed investment of between £700 million and £900 million to improve hospital facilities and hospital services across Hampshire for decades to come.

“We’d like to hear what people think of these proposals and that is why we are running a public consultation. To find out more, attend an event, or complete our questionnaire, visit www.hampshiretogether.nhs.uk. The consultation is open until midnight on 17 March 2024.”