Winchester hospital 'almost certain' to be downgraded

Daily Echo: DOWNGRADE: Royal Hampshire County Hospital. DOWNGRADE: Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

THE Royal Hampshire County Hospital looks almost certain to be downgraded, according to new proposals.

Health bosses had been considering several options as part of an NHS shake-up that would see specialist, consultant-led hospitals, and Winchester had been considered as a potential site for a new ‘super hospital’.

It has now been rejected on the basis of ‘site difficulties’.

The report that will be considered by Hampshire County Council next Tuesday has whittled down the options to two, both of which could see A&E and maternity units in the city downgraded.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the RHCH, and Basingstoke and Andover hospitals, is arguing that a big expansion of Basingstoke’s current hospital is a viable option, or that an entirely new site could also be appropriate.

The latter could cost about £70m, and a patch of land between the A303, A34 and M3 had been mooted.

Yesterday, a hospital spokeswoman said she could not comment on what form the plans would take, and that various options would have to be considered following a consultation.

Cllr Martin Tod sits on the county’s Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee that will consider the report.

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He said: “I’m very concerned based on what I’ve read. Like everybody I know the NHS can’t stand still, but I do not yet see how the proposals are going to make things better.

“There are some tough questions that need to be asked – and not yet enough detail on what exactly is proposed.

“Both options in the paper talk about ‘investing in Winchester’ but also refer to removing critical care services to Basingstoke or a new mid-Hampshire site.

“I also want to know what exactly this means for patients. Which patients will be affected and how will they be affected?”

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