NOT a single councillor from Andover attended a crucial NHS listening event held on Thursday, February 1, on the future of Hampshire hospitals.

The event, organised by Hampshire Together, aimed to gather community feedback regarding proposed changes to local hospital services, but was notably devoid of any Andover Town councillors or Test Valley Borough councillors representing Andover wards.

It was a free event to attend but guests had to book their places by registering online or by contacting Hampshire Together.

The event, held at the Andover Guildhall, featured sessions led by key figures including NHS Hamphsire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board (ICB) chief strategy and transformation officer Caroline Morison; Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust interim chief medical officer and consultant paediatrician Dr Nick Ward; Trust’s associate medical director for clinical strategy and consultant ENT surgeon Dr Andrea Burgess; and Trust’s director of strategy and population health Shirlene Oh.

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Among the topics discussed was the preferred option by the ICB and the Trust to build a new specialist acute hospital near Junction 7 of the M3, alongside the refurbishment of Winchester hospital.

This proposal would centralise acute health services in Hampshire, with Winchester hospital focusing on a doctor-led 24/7 urgent treatment centre and same-day emergency care.

This option is expected to cost £807m.

The ICB is also considering another option which includes building a new specialist acute hospital on the current Basingstoke hospital site.

However, concerns over average travel times, disruptions to existing services, and the overall cost of £948 million make this option less favourable.

There is also a third option in which nurse-led step-down services will be offered at Basingstoke hospital, in addition to the changes under the preferred option.

Residents who attended the event had the opportunity to engage with speakers, raising questions about the proposed changes.

One resident, whose first name is Hayden, expressed skepticism about the proposed plans, drawing parallels with a previous project for a critical treatment hospital at Junction 7 of the M3, which was vetoed by the CCG in 2017.

Responding to these concerns, Dr Nick Ward said: "We are in different process now. That was a completely different process which was a localised programme. But the current one is a very different because we are part of a new hospital programme by the government where there is clear funding and it involves a significantly different process leading us to where we are now. It is brilliant that we are at public consultation stage which is the farthest we have got since the Hampshire Hospitals was established.”

The consultation period, which extends for 14 weeks until March 17, offers residents a platform to voice their opinions via email, post, or phone.

SEE ALSO: Test Valley Borough Council local plan public consultation to start

Residents have a chance to make their voice heard by emailing to, or sending a letter to Freepost HAMPSHIRE TOGETHER. You can also call the at 0300 561 0905.

If you missed this listening event, and would like to attend another one, there is one happening in Alton on Saturday, February 3, and in Eastleigh on Thursday, February 8.

There is also an online event scheduled for Saturday, February 10.