CLAIMS that Romsey Hospital is being under-used have been made by the MPs and campaigners who fought for its future.

Romsey was one of five community hospitals in South West Hampshire which came under threat of closure last year, but all were saved after a massive public outcry.

But in a letter to the Trusts' chief executive John Richards this week, Dr Lewis has expressed the concerns of the 'Save Our Community Hospitals' campaign group that some of the undertakings given by the Trusts were not being honoured.

On the question of Romsey Hospital, he raises major questions over the lack of use of the endoscopy unit and the limited use of the X-ray department, which were both paid for with the aid of £800,000 raised following a hugely successful appeal.

Dr Frank Akerman, who chaired the Romsey Hospital Appeal, explained: "The X-ray unit is used, but it is not used as much as it should be.

"The original business plan was for 7,000 simple X-rays (per year) to be carried out at Romsey, which would save people from making 7,000 visits to Southampton or Winchester.

"But I understand that they are not doing anything like that. At the moment, the unit is only is only used on one day a week."

He recalled that when the endoscopy and X-ray units were set up, the agreement was that the Appeal would pay for the capital funding and the Trust would pay the running costs.

The agreement between the PCT and the hospital trusts at Southampton and Winchester, was that staff from Southampton would run two endoscopy sessions per week and staff from Winchester would run one per week.

"In the event, Southampton have not honoured this agreement and no sessions have been undertaken on their behalf, while Winchester have done two per week, which has recently been reduced to one per week and now there may be none at all," he said.

The Primary Care Trust had tried to offset some of that shortfall by running one session per week, but that lasted for just a fortnight before being withdrawn by the PCT for financial reasons, he explained.

Further discussions have been held with the PCT by representatives of the Appeal and the league of friends and the PCT remain committed to making every effort to make more use of both endoscopy and X-ray. But as at this moment, no firm plan has been produced.

A spokesperson for the PCT said this week: "There has been a temporary reduction in the X-ray service at Romsey, but we are pleased to report that the service resumed last week, with the first plain films on Thursday and ultrasound being reinstated next Monday.

"We will now be working with local GPs and provider Trusts to increase X-ray sessions at the Hospital.

"It is our intention to develop the endoscopy service at Romsey and make full use of the new facilities. We are currently working with providers and local GPs to make this happen and are hoping to be able to report progress shortly."

Dr Lewis has also now accepted an invitation to meet with the PCT Board on May 25 to discuss the considerable progress that is being made on community services and community hospitals."

And Mr Richards added: "Everyone knows this has been a difficult year for the PCTs and many expected us to fail. Instead we have rid the PCT of its huge burden of debt, saving £30m in a year, delivered our key targets, made improvements to services and managed the building of a brand new £36m hospital. This is a massive achievement and one that has put enormous pressure on our staff. It is a shame that our local MPs cannot recognise our achievements and lend their support," Mr Richards added.