NHS care for children who need hospital treatment across parts of Hampshire would be transformed under new proposals, according to doctors.

The proposals would see a brand-new specialist acute hospital, including urgent and emergency care, on the current Basingstoke hospital site or near Junction 7 of the M3, and significant investment in refurbishing the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, and are currently out to public consultation.

The options being consulted on would see a separate children’s emergency department developed in this part of Hampshire for the first time. Currently, Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is not able to provide a children’s emergency department because of a lack of staff and space, meaning children have to wait and be seen close to adult patients.

Dr Nick Ward, Interim Chief Medical Officer at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “As a children’s doctor, nothing is more important to me than the care we give children, young people, their families and carers. Under our proposals, children who need an operation or a stay in hospital would be cared for in a brand new children’s department at the specialist acute hospital.

“The proposals would mean that children who need surgery, whether it’s a planned operation, an emergency, or a same day procedure, would all be seen and treated by our specialist staff in a new hospital department specifically designed for children.”

At the moment, children can have surgery or an inpatient stay at both Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals.

Dr Ward continued: “Bringing these services onto one site means we would be able to bring all our specialist children’s healthcare professionals together. This would mean we no longer have to split rotas between departments, as we do now, with senior and specialist children’s doctors and nurses spread thinly across our sites, and we could provide better care in hospital settings specifically designed for children. This would enable us to meet important national standards for both general paediatrics and neonatal care. In addition it would support the development of new services such as paediatric high dependency care, and allow us to return to being able to care for more babies that are born premature, rather than them having to be transferred to a more specialist unit further away.”

“Our new children’s department would also be on the same site as our doctor-led maternity unit, specialist neonatal care unit, and other specialist services such as emergency anaesthetics and radiology, which includes x-rays, scans, and treatments such as blood transfusions. All of this means that we would be able to provide a more comprehensive, more specialist, and more resilient service for children than we can currently.”

Although the proposals would consolidate children’s inpatient services and surgery at the new hospital, not every service would move if the proposals were adopted.

Dr Ward explained: “Currently, both Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals provide outpatient services for children who need appointments, tests, and scans. We also run outpatient clinics in the community, close to people’s homes, for follow-up appointments after an operation or a hospital stay.

“We know coming to hospital is disruptive, and that it’s important that people can access as much care as possible close to home, so we would continue to provide and develop these services as close to people’s homes as possible. This will include nurse-led clinics for pre-operation assessments, online appointments where it is the right option for the child, and more community nursing support, for example for children who need intravenous antibiotics but don’t need to be in hospital.

“We know how important it is that children and their families receive specialist care, in the right environment for them, whether that’s in a hospital or in the community. We believe these proposals give us the opportunity to create really first class children’s services for local families.”

Get involved and have your say

To find out more, attend an event, or complete the questionnaire, visit www.hampshiretogether.nhs.uk. The consultation is open until midnight on 17 March 2024.