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News from the Hospital


The really encouraging news from the hospital this time is that there are very few Covid patients, with nobody in critical care unlike the situation 12 months ago. A great testament to the fantastic vaccine roll out and to the efforts made by each and every one of us.


However, we all need to remember that COVID hasn’t gone away and that cases are rising in the community. As such, when visiting we all need to maintain social distancing, wear our masks, and use the hand gel on entry. This is not only to protect ourselves, but we should also be mindful that the hospital has many people there who have reduced immunity to infection, for example anyone undergoing chemotherapy. These simple measures can really make all the difference.


In addition to the above positive news, it is encouraging the hospital last month met all of the national targets for seeing cancer patients, elective work is very much hitting target resulting in the number of people who have been waiting a long time for treatment has gone down, patient length of stay has also dropped, so that whilst the number of people visiting A & E has risen 40%, we no longer have the critical bed shortages of a year ago.


Recently the talk of concentrating some of the services into one or other of the two main hospitals of Winchester and Basingstoke, has caused considerable local concern. It is important to remember that no options have been decided upon at this stage and that there will be a full public consultation. There are arguments in favour of some centralisation. For instance, to maintain highly specialist expertise, a minimum level of patient throughput is required to avoid skill fade. There is also the very real risk that not consolidating may mean the trusts loses these services. At the same time the NHS is significantly changing – with more care than ever being provided in the community or in peoples own homes.


Headline news about our new hospital has been quiet of late but work has been going on behind the scenes. Given the scale of the plans to simultaneously build 40 new hospitals it has been recognised at national level there could be some synergies of design and build, and also a degree of coordination would be needed of the limited number of national contractors capable of undertaking each of these large projects.


In the meantime, the Hampshire Together team continues to focus on strengthening the business case – vital as the Treasury who will ultimately sign off the spend is going to be hard pressed for cash in the coming years. In addition, the team are gazing intently into their crystal ball trying to predict what over the next 40 -50 years, the capacity needed, what technologies will evolve and how to accommodate them, the space and work force required, transport requirements, and even how to achieve net zero carbon emissions. So despite the hospital team spending record amounts on maintenance, the backlog is growing, so the expected build start date of sometime 2025/6 cannot come soon enough.


Keith Bunker

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