THE nation’s health minister was delivered a message on a visit to Basingstoke about the new need for a new hospital in the area.

Stephen Hammond was welcomed to the town by Basingstoke’s MP Maria Miller, before the pair visited Basingstoke hospital.

The minister of state for health was welcomed to the hospital by Hampshire Hospitals chief executive Alex Whitfield and chairman of the trust Steve Erskine, before meeting senior management in various departments.

Mr Hammond heard about the background to the hospital, challenges associated with a growing population, and future plans.

He was then given a tour of a number of areas, including the emergency department, a medical ward specialising in respiratory conditions, the cardiac catheterisation laboratory, and the neonatal unit.

Following the visit, Mrs Miller said: “I took the opportunity to underline to the minister that I want to see new plans for a new hospital to serve the growing community across north Hampshire.”

Proposals for a new hospital off the M3 at Dummer were scrapped in 2017 by the North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group, to the disappointment of Hampshire Hospitals chiefs and local politicians.

The MP added: “I am delighted that the health minister was able to visit Basingstoke and see at first hand the amazing work being done by our doctors, nurses and medical teams, sometimes in quite challenging conditions.

“I was particularly pleased he was able to see the Accident and Emergency Department, where £4 million of extra funding last September enabled the hospital to carry out improvement works to increase capacity ahead of the winter pressures.”

During the visit, Mrs Miller and the health minister also met outgoing leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Councillor Clive Sanders and Richard Samuel, chief officer for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sustainability and Transformation Plan.