MULTI-million-pound plans to revolutionise healthcare in north and mid Hampshire, including Winchester, have taken a step forward.

A new hospital has become the centrepiece of the biggest modernisation programme of services in the area in 50 years.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (HHFT), which runs Winchester, Basingstoke and Andover hospitals, has long struggled with its ageing estate, stating that £73 million would be needed to bring the sites up to required standards.

And in order to keep the buildings functioning for the next 30 years would require over £700m in maintenance over that time.

But now hospital chiefs have revealed plans to build a health campus with the new hospital as a “centre of excellence” at its heart.

It could see the likes of partners in mental health, primary health, social care and more accommodated on the site.

However, a location for the new hospital has yet to be decided, according to the trust which this week launched a programme ‘Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services’ to bring plans to fruition.

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Chief medical officer Dr Lara Alloway, speaking on a podcast introducing the programme, said: “This is about our healthcare services but it is also about hospital building because actually there are always some things that need to be in a hospital and currently our hospital buildings that we love in Basingstoke, Winchester and Andover, particularly in Basingstoke, are actually not fit for purpose anymore.”

She continued: “We will be building a hospital and we don’t know exactly where. Currently we are looking at various different options for that, but for some of what is also important is all the other services that will need to be around the hospital or actually nearer to where people live.

“The hospital will need to be near where people live but ultimately it will be where we find a piece of land big enough.”

Dr Alloway speculated that the hospital could cost around £700 million.

In September last year the Government announced that Hampshire’s NHS would receive funding to put a fresh business case together for a new hospital.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was awarded a share of £100 million for new projects as part of the national Health Infrastructure Plan.

This funding will develop a business case for a new hospital, to be delivered between 2026-30.

However, the report hints that services could be lost in Winchester and Basingstoke, with health chiefs stating that the trust “often struggles to fully staff two relatively small Emergency Departments”.

It also has issues “delivering maternity and paediatric care across multiple sites and risks losing neo-natal services altogether unless the service is placed on a more long-term sustainable footing”.

It is unclear whether Winchester hospital will lose any of its services or be downgraded once the new hospital opens.

The public, staff and stakeholders are being asked their views on where the new hospital should be built and wider views on the plans.

In August a list of options are due to be published, with a formal public consultation in 2021.

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MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford Steve Brine said: “This is clearly an ambitious exercise but it’s welcome if it is a genuine attempt to listen to my constituents on future services.

“We had to work extremely hard last year to secure Hampshire Hospitals place in the Health Infrastructure Plan and I’ve had confirmation from ministers that no matter the final formulation of the plans, the Royal Hampshire County Hospital will receive significant investment as part of this project.

“The Trust know well my red lines around consultant-led obstetric care in Winchester and I am very sure local people back me 100 per cent in this view.”

Basingstoke MP Maria Miller has previously called for a new hospital for the town, at a location near Junction 7 of the M3.

The site was previously identified as the ideal location for a new Critical Treatment Hospital, but plans for the £150m hospital were scrapped in 2017 because it was deemed “not affordable”.

To have your say and find out more, go to www.hampshiretogether.nhs.uk.