CIVIC chiefs grilled hospital bosses for more than three and a half hours on their multi-million-pound proposals.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT) and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board presented its plans for hospital services across the county to Winchester City Council’s health and environment committee.

A wide range of issues were discussed including: finances, access and services, in front of a gathering of about 15 people on Wednesday, January 31. 

The plans are for a new specialist acute hospital on the edge of Basingstoke, using more than £800m government funding.

Under the plans, the RHCH would be refurbished and a 24/7 'urgent treatment centre' opened. The maternity unit at the hospital would also be downgraded to be mid-wife led. The new hospital would open in 2032. 

READ MORE: Winchester residents fear loss of A&E unit will be ‘disastrous’

Hampshire Chronicle: Health and environment committee

Philip Glassborow said: “The reasons for keeping the A&E in Winchester is for access and resilience. It's important for a city of our size to have an A&E. The new hospital will increase the strain on our ambulance services.”

Max Priesemann said: “Why are there no plans for improved transport links? Patients who don't drive will be even more disadvantaged.”

Danny Chambers, Winchester Liberal Democrat election candidate, said: “This has caused a lot of anxiety. I'm concerned about the funding. Have you got written confirmation that the project is funded in full?”

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of HHFT, said: “This is an opportunity to make the services we offer much better. The Winchester population has changed a lot since the hospital was built in the 1800s. 

“The hospital buildings are at the end of their usable life. If you were to build a new hospital today, it wouldn't look like the Royal Hampshire County Hospital. We think the option we are proposing is better for all patients.

“There currently isn't public transport to the proposed site at junction seven.“

Cllr Steve Cramoysan, the committee's chairman, asked if other sites for a new hospital had been considered, including Sir John Moore Barracks. Ms Whitfield said: “We had about 30 sites at one point and the Sir John Moore Barracks site was one of them.”

Cllr Jonny Morris asked if the funding of between £700m and £900m had been guaranteed. Ms Whitfield said: “The national new hospitals programme has a very clear budget up until 2030 and then has an indicative budget beyond that. The Department of Health and Social Care wrote to us and said the budget for Hampshire is £700m and £900m and we should progress to develop a plan to then write an accurate business case. Until we have a site and a model, we can't be specific about exactly how much money we need. After that there will be an indicative envelope, ready and waiting for us put in our pitch to.”

Cllr Neil Bolton said: “This is an enormously complex problem. You're not going to please all the people all the time. I'm reassured that you're not politically influenced. I hope the money comes as I'm sure it will.”

Cllr Charlie Wise disagreed and said: “I can't share the optimism that the money will come. I can't imagine us seeing this money. I just can't see it happening.”

The debate will be used to inform the council's official response to the consultation, which is open until March 17. 

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