NEW concerns have been raised over the possible plans to close Winchester’s accident and emergency department and its impact on other emergency rooms.

It comes as the NHS is preparing a public consultation in north and middle Hampshire to gather views on how to develop its “brand-new” hospital and make “potential” changes in services.

During the Hampshire County Council Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, officers from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board (ICB) revealed plans for a 12-week public consultation that seeks to develop the brand-new hospital in Basingstoke, as well as make potential changes to how Hampshire Hospitals NHS delivers acute services.

The consultation by the ICB, which is responsible for services in the area, will primarily cover north and mid-Hampshire, which includes Basingstoke and Winchester where hospitals are “approaching the end of their usable lives”.

The consultation said they will need replacing but in a way which will serve the needs of patients for years to come.

Proposals have been drawn up for a new hospital near the M3 in Basingstoke which will impact on services at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

During the meeting, councillor Andy Frampton, representing Southampton City Council, said possible plans to close Winchester’s accident and emergency (A&E) department and its relocation to Basingstoke’s new hospital could put pressure on the Southampton A&E.

An online petition to save Winchester’s emergency department has achieved 12,941 signatures. Residents have raised concerns over Winchester A&E since plans for the new hospital in Basingstoke were unveiled.

Cllr Frampton said: “If that would be the case, how would that be consulted out with the stakeholders? Especially with Southampton because we [the city council] would see pressure being put on the A&E department.”

ICB officer Charlotte Hutchings said: “We are working closely with the management of the hospital in Southampton as well as the clinicians providing the service about what the impact is if we change/close; if the hospital moves, what impact would that have?

“It is absolutely in no one’s interest to impact Southampton. This has to be better for the whole of Hampshire.”

The draft document consultation plan said: “We are not proposing to consult on every step of the patient pathway but on proposals to change the acute, hospital-based services that people need and use, joining up care with primary and community-based facilities and making sure people get the right care at the right time, in the right place.

“Hospital buildings in Basingstoke and Winchester, while much loved, are approaching the end of their usable lives.

“Our population has grown and changed since the buildings were built, and medicine has evolved as evidence, knowledge, specialist expertise, and new ways of working have developed.

“We are clear that we want to use this opportunity not just to replace the buildings but to redesign the way we provide care for our population for decades to come.”

No final decision will be made on the future of acute hospital services in Hampshire until an independent analysis is conducted after the consultation.

Alex Whitfield, Chief Executive, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust, on behalf of Hampshire Together, said: “Earlier this year we got the exciting news that we will receive between £700 and £900 million to invest in a new hospital for Hampshire and significant investment in the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.  For some time now, we have been working with patients, community representatives and health and care staff to develop potential options for the new hospital and service configuration. These plans will ensure we use this funding to deliver safe, high quality and sustainable services in excellent facilities which will serve our population well for decades to come.

“No decisions have yet been made for the configuration of a new hospital or any changes to services.  These decisions will be shaped by consulting patients, carers, our local communities, staff and partners on our potential plans.

"We will ensure there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to have their say and help shape how we make the most of this fantastic opportunity.”