AS THE Gazette launches a campaign calling for the Government to ‘Build Our Hospital’, we have asked the town’s MP to answer questions and take part in an interview.

Maria Miller has been asked to address concerns over funding to build a new hospital for Basingstoke, after the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed to the Gazette that the £900m ‘ring-fenced’ for Basingstoke is not guaranteed, and a report from the Public Accounts Committee revealed that the £22bn government funding does not include hospitals in cohort 4 of the New Hospital Programme.

Basingstoke hospital is in cohort 4.

Basingstoke Gazette: Maria MillerREAD MORE: Government confirms new hospital funding is not guaranteed

So far, Dame Miller has declined our request to be interviewed or answer specific questions over funding. She was also asked if she would like to support the Gazette’s campaign to ‘Build Our Hospital’ but has not responded to this.

Instead, she sent a statement saying: “The money is already allocated by the Treasury which is why the Hampshire Hospital NHS Trust is moving ahead.”

When pressed to answer specific questions about funding and to address the Public Accounts Committee report and DHSC statement, a representative from her office said: “Any further questions about funding are best addressed by the chief executive of the NHS trust who is leading on this.”

SEE ALSO: Funding fears over new hospital as inquiry finds 'no confidence' in programme

Dame Miller has also urged the public to take part in the new hospital consultation.

She said: “The hospital’s doors are due to open in 2032. This may seem like a long time, but plans are due to be finalised soon so that attention can be turned towards building works. If we continue to work together as a community in support of the new hospital, we can make the case to leapfrog other hospital building projects that are facing greater problems in other parts of the country.

“Doing so could enable us to argue for delivering the hospital ahead of the current indicative schedule. With all of this in mind, if you haven’t already, please take the time to have your say on the plans by responding to the consultation.”

A statement published on her website added: “The NHS head of the new Hospitals Programme is clear that she 'would not have supported a move to public consultation if (we were) not confident that funding would be available'. This follows a public statement last year from the Secretary of State for Health that Basingstoke’s new hospital would be fully funded. 

“It is sad that speculation over funding has risked undermining our hospital’s public consultation amongst Basingstoke residents. Particularly when the consultation is continuing at pace in Winchester without these same arguments being made. 

“The Public Accounts Committee is right to scrutinise public spending of national infrastructure projects and to challenge the NHS and DHSC on their planning assumptions. That is their job. The Government will respond to this report from MPs with the national analysis as they are required to do by parliament.

"But here in Basingstoke the NHS is clear. Basingstoke needs a new hospital. The NHS is confident funding will be available. And the NHS has already released £6million of the money to our hospital, who are getting on with the job.

“I hope everyone standing for election in the May borough elections will now join me in looking for ways to encourage residents to support the public consultation which closes on March 17 and to look for ways to speed up delivery of this essential part of our local services.”