On 23 March, you published my letter stating my scepticism that, in spite of our local Conservative MPs assurances, we would be seeing a new hospital for Basingstoke anytime soon. Little could I have imagined that within the space of just nine weeks, my worst fears would be proved correct. We now know that Basingstoke has been bumped down the priority list to be replaced by, amongst others, Frimley Park, just 20 miles to the east of Basingstoke. We are told that this should merely delay a new hospital for Basingstoke by 'a few years'. Sadly, in my opinion, Basingstoke will prove to be one of those schemes that is permanently only 'a few years away'. 

READ MORE: Funding announced for new Basingstoke hospital but issues remain over preferred site

Why do I say this? Well, first of all within the space of two years we are highly likely to have a new Labour government (minority or majority) which will commit to a hospital rebuilding programme but given budget constraints will insist on reappraising the list of priorities just as the current government has itself done. Do we really think a national investment programme is likely to allocate two new hospitals within close geographic proximity along the M3 corridor? I think not. A further challenge for Basingstoke hospital will be that Frimley Park is going to be rebuilt to a world-class standard apparently consisting solely of single rooms. It is not hard to imagine how attractive this will be to patients and, those of us living east of Basingstoke could well switch our choice of provider to this new facility with a potential significant loss of income to Basingstoke further undermining the case for a new hospital in the town.

My advice to Basingstoke hospital and its partners is to prepare plans/costs for refurbishment rather than a full rebuild as this is likely to be all that is available from a new Government and something will need to be done urgently to counter the obvious attractions for both staff and patients of a new Frimley Park from 2030.

Barry Deller

Chalky Copse