Proposed Hospital: North Hampshire

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 2:47 pm ar 26 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 2:47, 26 Ebrill 2024

I congratulate my right hon. Friend Dame Maria Miller on securing a debate on this really important issue. I am responding on behalf of the Minister for Health and Secondary Care, my right hon. Friend Andrew Stephenson, who tells me that she has been a tireless campaigner for Basingstoke on this matter, as well as on countless others.

The Government believe that the people of Hampshire should, of course, have a say on where their new hospital should be built. As my right hon. Friend said, we have asked people from across the county to share their views with Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. I am sure she understands, however, that it would be wrong of us to pre-empt their views, or indeed to interfere with their decision making, but I am happy to assure her that we remain committed to delivering the new hospital.

The trust and the integrated care board are going through the responses as we speak. They will submit a business case for NHSE regional approval through the ICB in a few months’ time. I should be clear that while the trust and the ICB do that, there will be no final decision on the new hospital’s location or the services it will deliver, but once a decision has been taken we will, of course, update the House. I am sure my right hon. Friend will have much to say about that herself, too.

I want to address the points my right hon. Friend raised on the importance of clinical guidance in forming decision making. She is absolutely right to say that decisions should be locally led and based on the best clinical evidence. That is why proposals must meet our tests for good decision making, which include a clear evidence base that is in keeping with clinical guidance and best practice. In developing the consultation, the trust has looked at a variety of options to deliver clinical care in Basingstoke and Winchester. Experts have been consulted at every stage of the process to provide appropriate clinical guidance. Two particular examples in the consultation demonstrate how the trust used clinical guidance to inform the options it has put forward.

First, on proposals around accident and emergency services, the trust received expert clinical guidance from local doctors, who strongly agree that maintaining emergency departments at both Basingstoke and Winchester would be unsafe and unsustainable. The trust also received advice from the South East Coast Clinical Senate, an independent panel of senior doctors who expressed concern over retaining an A&E department at both sites, due to serious concerns around patient safety. Instead, it has argued that acute medical services must be twinned with surgical services in order for patients to receive first-class care. Therefore, the proposal includes two brand-new 24/7 doctor-led urgent treatment centres and same-day emergency care to deal with most urgent care needs—one at the new specialist acute hospital and one at Winchester’s Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

Secondly, the proposals give the people of Hampshire an emergency department with a trauma unit and a children’s emergency department at the specialist acute hospital, which will treat the most serious conditions. As my right hon. Friend said in her remarks, it is essential for new mothers and mums-to-be to have the best possible care for themselves and their babies—she will know that this is an area of healthcare that is very dear to my heart. The trust has looked carefully at keeping obstetrician-led maternity services at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, but found that many patient safety issues have left them not viable, particularly following the 2022 publication of the independent Ockenden review of maternity services at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS trust, which set out the need for obstetrician-led maternity services to be in hospitals that can also provide emergency surgery and critical care.

In Hampshire, those services could only be provided at the new specialist acute hospital, because the neonatal units at the Winchester site currently do not treat enough babies to meet the requirements for level 2 care, while consolidated services at the new specialist acute hospital will meet that requirement. The rationale is that the proposals will lead to fewer babies’ being transferred out of the area to receive vital neonatal care, and I think the whole House will agree that the last thing new mothers need after giving birth is an extra journey to receive critical care.

I thank my right hon. Friend for raising this important issue and for continuing to engage with the new hospital scheme. She is a real champion for her constituents in this place, and they will have seen her fighting their corner today. We want to do everything in our power to get the people of Hampshire the world-class care they deserve. We will continue to support the trust throughout the development of the business case, to ensure that plans meet the needs of staff and patients as well as offering value for money for taxpayers. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Member for Pendle has recently committed to visiting Basingstoke and I am sure my right hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke will take immense pride in showing him around one of England’s extremely beautiful towns.