HEALTH bosses planning to overhaul frontline services in Eastleigh have assured concerned locals that levels of care will not suffer.

The pledge comes in the face of an official objection from the borough council to plans to merge health care provision for 50,000 residents in the south of the borough with that in Southampton.

Proposals have been floated by Southampton and South West Hampshire Health Authority to form a new Solent health care trust from Southampton East Healthcare, which serves part of Eastleigh, and the central Southampton primary care group.

But council chiefs fear the shake-up will adversely affect those patients in the south of the borough and those left out of the merger in the north.

In the approved response to consultation on the scheme, chief executive Chris Tapp has told health bosses the council "strongly oppose the current proposal to merge".

The reasons for the objection include fears that Southampton's needs would come first and the healthcare of Eastleigh residents would be "progressively marginalised", partnership work between services would be undermined and a comprehensive framework for primary care trusts (PCTs) has yet to be set.

But Brian Skinner, chief executive of Southampton East PCT, vowed that, whatever the final outcome of the shake-up, patients would not suffer.

He said: "The PCT is committed to improving health services for local people, regardless of which local authority area that they live in.

"Joining with central South-ampton primary care group provides an opportunity for us to do this by pooling resources and sharing best practice.

"Regardless of the outcome of the consultation and the final decision on configuration, primary care trusts and primary care groups in Southampton and Eastleigh will remain committed to improving the health and health care of local people."

A health authority spokeswoman confirmed it had received the council response and would take it into account along with other responses received by the end of the consultation period on October 27.