PEOPLE are being asked for their views on a major shake-up of care which could see the downgrading of maternity and A&E units at a major Hampshire hospital.

Health bosses are considering centralising some consultant-led services in a new emergency hospital north of the city which would take some services from the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust (HHFT), which now runs the RHCH, Andover War Memorial Hospital and Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, has been drawing up plans since October 2011.

They argue changes are needed to keep services safe and financially viable in the future.

Mary Edwards, chief executive of HHFT, said: “Clinical evidence shows that some aspects of hospital services will need to be centralised in one place.

“We are asking people what matters to them about hospital services to help shape plans for how services will be delivered in future.”

The new hospital would have consultants on site 24-hours a day, seven days a week and access to specialist equipment.

As previously reported, clinicians have proposed centralising consultant-led maternity care, specialist baby care, in-patient children’s care and “blue light” emergencies such as heart attacks and major trauma.

But this would leave Winchester with a midwife-led maternity unit for natural births only and walk-in unit for less serious A&E cases.

At present, about 3,000 women per year give birth at the RHCH which has the full range of obstetricians, paediatricians, anaesthetists and midwives.

Now local people are being asked what is impor tant to them under in five different scenarios, including giving birth and emergency care. Questionnaires are available on the trust website

Mindy Noble, chair of the Maternity Services liaison Committee and a National Childbirth Trust (NCT) counsellor, said she felt uncomfortable centralising maternity care in the emergency hospital as it was a natural process.

Mrs Noble predicted less than 500 women would choose to give birth in a standalone midwife-led maternity centre at the RHCH.

“A lot of women are looking for safety and reassurance that there will be an obstetrician to give medical help if needed. You can’t have an epidural or Caesarean-section in a midwife-led unit.”

Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP, Steve Brine, has previously called for the RHCH to keep the full range of maternity services and emergency care.

But now the Tory MP says “some compromises” may be needed.

He said: “My aspirations for health services locally haven’t changed, I want safe and sustainable services that command the confidence of those who use them and the clinicians who work in them.”

The initial consultation ends on November 30.