HEALTH bosses have refused to confirm the future of Winchester’s A&E as plans move forward to centralise hospital services in north and mid-Hampshire.

Concerns have been raised about the emergency facilities at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital (RHCH) after it was decided that a plan for a new £150m critical treatment hospital off junction 7 of the M3 would be shelved, in favour of alternative centralisation proposals.

As previously reported, the boards of the North and Mid Hampshire Clinical Commission Groups (CCG) approved recommendations to scrap the new hospital plans as they were deemed “unaffordable”.

When asked by campaign group Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Defend Our NHS Campaign to confirm the future of an A&E at the RHCH, health bosses said a decision could not be made yet.

Heather Hauschild, chief officer at West Hampshire CCG, said: “There is still work to do, so we are not at a stage where we can say what it will look like. We hope that we would be able to conclude by the end of February.”

The decision has been met with fear from campaigners fighting to keep an A&E in Winchester.

A spokesman for the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Defend Our NHS Campaign said: “We feel the public in Winchester and the surrounds need to be made aware that their A&E is under serious threat of closure.

“[The] meeting decided against a new hospital, which they themselves recognised as clinically to the good of the public, was unaffordable. Yet again our underfunded, understaffed and overstretched NHS is told that what is good is unaffordable.”

However, Winchester MP Steve Brine said: “The RHCH must retain a front door, let’s call that an emergency department, but it can only do so with safe and sustainable services behind. What goes on inside is far more important than what the sign says outside.

“As I have repeatedly said, it’s important to understand what Winchester Hospital is now before we get worked up about its future.”

Mr Brine added that he would be working closely with HHFT in the future to ensure there is “appropriate consultant-led cover in the city”.