Leading medics have said proposals to invest up to £900m across hospitals in Hampshire would significantly improve the safety and quality of care for people in an emergency.

The proposals, which are open to public consultation until Sunday, March 17, would see a new specialist acute hospital developed on the current Basingstoke hospital site, or near to Junction 7 of the M3.

The new hospital would see and treat people suffering from strokes, heart attacks, life and limb-threatening illnesses and injuries, and bring a separate children’s emergency department to Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for the first time, as well as a critical care unit for adults and neonatal unit for babies.

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As well as emergency care, it would also provide services for those who need highly specialist treatment, more complex planned care, or operations where patients might require critical care afterwards.

Chief Medical Officer for the NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board, Dr Lara Alloway, said: “Some services, like those for heart attacks, strokes, and major accidents, are already only provided by one of our hospitals.

"Bringing all our specialist and emergency services together onto one site would enable us to provide better and safer care.

Basingstoke Gazette: Photo of heart centre Photo of heart centre (Image: NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight ICB)
“A maternity unit led by specialist doctors would be able to have consultants on site for more hours than either Basingstoke or Winchester hospital currently does.

“Bringing both hospitals’ existing neonatal units together onto one site would mean the unit would see a high enough number of babies each year to look after those with more serious health problems than either hospital can currently.

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"At the moment, 100 babies a year have to go to other hospitals for treatment. Under the proposals, they could be looked after closer to their homes and families.”

New ‘one-stop' outpatient clinics, plus a new cancer treatment centre providing a comprehensive range of treatment, therapies, advice, and information, would also be located at the new hospital.

Dr Alloway added: “It’s important to remember that urgent treatment centres, led by doctors, at both the new hospital and Winchester hospital would see and treat around 60 per cent of people who currently attend the emergency departments.

"Only the sickest patients, with the most serious conditions, would need to go to the new hospital’s emergency department, most often taken by ambulance.

“Since we launched our consultation in late 2023, we have spoken to hundreds of people and we are hearing a range of different views, opinions, and questions. We really welcome the chance to discuss our proposals with local people, and we are listening closely to what they tell us.”

Interim Chief Medical Officer at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Nick Ward, said: “We know we can’t keep our services organised the way that they currently are.

“We don’t have a dedicated children’s emergency department because of a lack of staff and space. Good practice standards for maternity services say there should ideally be a consultant onsite for 98 hours a week, with a minimum of 60 hours. We can only currently provide a minimum of 60 hours a week at each of our two sites.

“Our current neonatal units do not see enough babies for staff to maintain their specialist skills, and we don’t have enough specialist neonatal doctors, especially at weekends.

"In critical care, we only have enough doctors with advanced airway skills to provide dedicated onsite cover 12 hours a day, rather than the 24 recommended in national guidelines.

“Our population is growing and getting older, meaning people’s health and care needs are changing. Some of our buildings are approaching the end of their usable lives and would cost many millions to keep functioning as they are over the coming years.

“Perhaps most importantly, we know that we have a shortage of staff, nationally, across the NHS in key areas, including maternity services, neonatal care and critical care.

“We believe that our proposals give us the best possible chance of addressing these challenges for the future.

“While we know that some people may have to travel further for emergency and specialist care, as well as planned care in the future, our clinicians believe that this would be more than offset by shorter waits to see a senior doctor and for diagnostics on arrival at hospital, more consistent high-quality care, improved outcomes, shorter hospital stays, and services that are sustainable for the long term.”

“The consultation is ongoing and we continue to meet with local people at listening events, in person and online, and at stalls and stands around the county.

“Hearing their views and experiences of our services, and how our proposals could be improved, is important to us. Please do take the chance to get involved before the consultation closes on Sunday, March 17."

To find our more, attend an event or complete the questionnaire, go to hampshiretogether.nhs.uk. The consultation is open until midnight on Sunday, March 17.