A GROUP of councillors tasked with looking at proposals for a new emergency hospital to serve the people of Basingstoke, north and mid-Hampshire said they have “a number of concerns” about the plans.
As previously reported, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Basingstoke, Winchester and Andover hospitals, is working with local Clinical Commissioning Groups on plans to create a new critical treatment hospital.
As reported in last week’s Gazette, the new hospital, which could cost around £70million, will be based either on the Basingstoke site or on a patch of land between the A303, A34 and the M3.
But there are fears the creation of the new hospital will lead to the removal of specialist staff from Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals, and the downgrading of accident and emergency and maternity units.
Regardless of where the proposed hospital is built, it will treat the most serious cases and will also be the site for consultant-led maternity care.
A report on the plans was considered by members of Hampshire County Council’s health and overview scrutiny committee on Tuesday.
Dr Nigel Sylvester, vice clinical chair of West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group, told the meeting that 80 per cent of care would remain at Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals, but creating a new centre to treat the most critical cases was vital.
He said: “It will be manned by staff from Winchester and Basingstoke but this does not mean that we leave these hospitals bereft.
“Specialist staff will still be available to offer advice, but critical care will be located in the treatment centre.”
The committee heard that pregnant women classed as high-risk – first-time mums or those with complications during pregnancy – would be encouraged to give birth at the new hospital.
Councillor Fiona Mather raised concerns about those women not classed as high-risk who go into labour at their nearest hospital but then suffer complications and need to be transferred to the new centre.
Dr Sylvester said those involved in the plans need to look at ways of reducing this risk, as they currently do with those mums-to-be who choose a home birth.
Cllr Mather said she found it “hard to believe” his assertion that this would only affect a “very small” proportion of women, saying: “one disaster is too many.”
Cllr Martin Tod said the hospital trust needed to be clearer about its plans. He added: “You talk of having an exciting vision for Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals, but it is not clear what that vision is.”
Cllr Pat West, chair of the committee, told speakers for the trust and the CCGs that councillors had a “number of concerns” about the plans.
The committee members said they wanted finer details about the proposals, and asked for an update after a formal public consultation process, which will begin in February.
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