Why you could have to travel further to A&E in Hampshire as health bosses propose major shake up

09/11/21. Undated file photo of a sign for an Accident and Emergency department. Issue date: Tuesday November 2, 2021. PA Images.
A sign showing a hospital has an emergency department. Credit: PA

Words by ITV Meridian Journalist Harry Acton.

Major changes that could see Winchester lose its Accident and Emergency department, and much of its maternity provision, are being considered by health bosses.

Under two of the options being put forward by the NHS, those services would be provided instead at a new acute hospital 'hub' around 20 miles away. It would be sited just off the M3 motorway at Junction 7 on the outskirts of Basingstoke.

Basingstoke's existing site, the North Hampshire Hospital, would also lose emergency care services and offer routine and planned care.

The proposals consolidate healthcare provision across the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which also operates sites in Andover and Alton.

Winchester's Royal Hampshire County Hospital, which has been on Romsey Road since the late 1800s, would also focus on routine, planned care.

It would still have a doctor-led urgent treatment centre which would could handle 60% of the cases the A&E department currently sees.

The current maternity unit would become midwife led, and offer some pre and post natal care. But higher-risk pregnancies and deliveries would be handled a the proposed new site near to the M3 or at the existing Basingstoke site.

The NHS says change needs to happen to protect the quality of services available to the 550,000 people Hampshire Hospitals currently serves.

But a petition opposing the loss of Accident and Emergency in Winchester has gathered nearly 19 thousand signatures.

The changes, if approved, would take place over the next decade.

Documents released by Hampshire Together Credit: ITV Meridian

What are health bosses proposing?

There are three options that have been put forward by the NHS.

Option 1 - New specialist acute hospital on the current Basingstoke hospital site and refurbishment at Winchester hospital.

Option 2 - New specialist acute hospital near Junction 7 of the M3 and refurbishment at Winchester hospital.

Option 3 - New specialist acute hospital near Junction 7 of the M3 and refurbishment at Winchester hospital and additional services staying at the current Basingstoke Site.

Royal Hampshire County Hospital Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/PA Images

What does this mean for Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester?

A&E would no longer be available at Winchester, although there would be a 24/7 doctor-led urgent treatment centre.

Obstetrician-led maternity services would no longer be available at Winchester, but there would be a midwife-led birthing unit and antenatal and postnatal care.

There would be changes to where planned surgery would be provided, with the majority of planned surgery only being available at Winchester.

There would be changes to where some cancer treatment would be provided, with radiotherapy and some types of chemotherapy only available at the cancer treatment centre at the new hospital, but with other cancer care remaining local.

The new hospital would encompass all emergency care services, specialist inpatient care, complex and emergency surgery, an obstetrician led birthing unit and cancer treatment centre.

This would improve services for the majority of people across Hampshire, health bosses have said.

ITV News Meridian's Harry Acton sent this from the final public meeting on the proposals in Winchester.

How much is this set to cost?

The NHS says Option 2, in its opinion, is the best option for the people of Hampshire. It is also the cheapest, costing around £807 million. This option is the 'best value for money'.

In contrast, a full refurbishment of both hospitals and moving acute services to he existing Basingstoke site, Option 1, would cost the taxpayer £948 million. This is within an acceptable range the NHS says.

So far Hampshire Together believes it is likely to receive between £700 million and £900 million pounds.

The NHS has not proposed keeping services as they are and just refurbishing both sites, so no quote is available. It has, however, effectively ruled out keeping things the same.

What about travel times?

Hampshire Together has acknowledged that journey times will be longer for some residents in the county.

It estimates that if a new site is built near to Junction 7 of the M3 it would take a patient 30 minutes to reach it by ambulance. This is an average journey time from across the entirely of the Hampshire Hospitals catchment area. This rises to 50 minutes at peak times.

This is longer than existing journeys, as patients can currently access both Winchester and Basingstoke.

Currently a patient can get to one of the two sites in 20 minutes or less on average. The NHS estimates 50% of its catchment can reach existing sites within 15 to 30 minutes.

The new site, it says, would see 60% of patients being able to access care within 15 to 30 minutes.

Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital Credit: ITV Meridian

Why can't services stay as they are?

Hampshire Together says the current set up is not clinically safe or sustainable.

It says consultant emergency doctors are spread across both sites meaning, on average, they are only available for 14.5 hours a day. This could rise to 16 if acute care is based at one site. There are not enough junior doctors for both sites too.

With the reduction in acute services at Winchester under the proposals, it would not be feasible to keep a fully functional A&E at the site Hampshire Together says.

However in the last inspection of both Basingstoke and Winchester, the sites were rated as 'good', with Winchester receiving an 'outstanding' rating for effective care and a 'good' rating for safety and staffing levels in its most recent inspection.

Hampshire's Integrated Care Board says it is also costing too much to run the current setup, and overspent by £83.2 million pounds in the 22/23 financial year.

Dr Lara Alloway, Chief Medical Officer for NHS Hampshire and Isle of Wight told ITV Meridian the proposals will improve outcomes.

What happens next?

The consultation runs until March 17 and everyone from across Hampshire is being urged to share their views.

Hampshire Together has said it is open to new ideas, and hasn't ruled out tweaking the proposals.

Anyone can share their views at hampshiretogether.nhs.uk, or can send a letter to FREEPOST HAMPSHIRE TOGETHER.

The NHS expects to share the results of the consultation in Summer of this year, before the proposals are taken to a decision making meeting of local and national NHS bodies.

If approved, the new site could be up and running in the next decade. Changes to Winchester would then be implemented.

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