MEMBERS of the public had their say on plans to build a new hospital and how to spend government funding for health improvements for the area.

Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Basingstoke and Andover hospitals, held a consultation event via Zoom on Thursday evening, giving the public the chance to ask questions and offer suggestions on how to spend the money.

Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services is a new programme that will involve all NHS and social care services across Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Winchester and the surrounding areas, with the main project being the construction of a brand-new hospital, the location of which is yet to be decided.

Almost 30 people took part in the consultation event and listened to presentations about the challenges faced by the trust when deciding how to spend the money, including a changing population, financial resilience, and the condition of the hospital buildings.

Shirlene Oh, director of strategy and partnerships, said: “Last year we ended up in a position of deficit against the budget and this isn’t sustainable.”

She said Covid-19 had highlighted “a lack of flexibility” with the current hospital buildings, including ICU capacity.

She added: “It’s also highlighted opportunities. We have had virtual consultations through phone or video to continue to reach people who can’t come to the hospital and this is something we want to continue going forward.”

One of the proposals going forward is to deliver care to patients from their homes.

Dr Simon Struthers, associate medical director, said: “We want to push more of what we do out into the community and deliver more of our care in patients’ homes or near their homes as much as possible.”

Elly Jonson, a member of staff at Basingstoke hospital, asked what plans will be made for childcare at the new hospital site, saying: “I’m a Basingstoke member of staff and would require childcare on the new site in order for me to work there. Good childcare, e.g. nurseries will also make the job more attractive to new staff.”

It was confirmed that the trust will be looking at childcare provision for the new hospital.

A Basingstoke GP, who also works in the Emergency Department, said she hoped the trust would learn from Covid-19, including the importance of having separate side rooms and places for staff to relax.

“In terms of staff wellbeing, looking at having staff rooms on every ward and having locker rooms and changing rooms and also areas you can gather your thoughts… places staff can go where they can discuss things where they don’t have to worry about patients overhearing,” she suggested, adding: “We could design a hospital that’s more infection control savvy.”

Dr Struthers responded: “There’s likely going to be regulations to guide us. I suspect the whole site will need to be Covid-proof.”

Joy Deadman, a governor for the trust, said those she had spoken to were mainly concerned about the location of the new hospital, saying: “If it’s too far away the older generation are concerned about getting there.”

She added: “The other major concern is that you are putting a lot of things back into the community but where are the community staff coming from? It’s pretty thin on the ground at the moment.”

John Boyman, from the trust’s communications department, said they don’t yet have an answer in relation to where the new hospital will be, or what will happen to Basingstoke hospital.

Dr Struthers added: “There’s no point in us building an amazing new hospital if there’s nothing elsewhere. We aren’t going to leave places out. We are aware that if we move a centre to somewhere different we can’t neglect the area we have left.”

He explained that staff working in hospitals will also be expected to work in the community.

Esi Hardy raised concerns about inclusion and making sure that everyone who wants to has a chance to take part in the trust’s consultation, particularly as the engagement events so far have been online.

Stacy Hart, from the Women’s Equality Party Basingstoke, also spoke at the event, and said she would be submitting a document with suggestions about how to ensure healthcare is more inclusive going forward, highlighting current failings including PPE being too large for women, pain being undermined, and a lack of women used in medical research.

Hampshire Hospitals will now use the information from the event along with other engagement sessions to inform its decisions.

A summary of the findings will be released before Christmas, after which a formal public consultation on several options is held in 2021.

It is hoped that building work on the new hospital will begin between 2024 and 2025, ready to open between 2026 and 2030.

To take part in the consultation visit