What needs to be decided and on what basis?

To get the most out of this project, some very hard choices will need to be made, from where to locate a potential new hospital to what services are delivered and from where.

Given the scale of the project, it will benefit the entire community, though the impact it has on individuals will of course vary depending on a number of factors, for instance how frequently a person requires care.

Here are some of the factors that we will need to bear in mind when making decisions:

The communities served by the NHS in north and mid Hampshire are diverse, large and a mix of rural and urban. Any solution proposed must be firmly rooted in the needs of the population.

So: What services are needed and when? And with this in mind, where should they be provided from?

As such, as well as our clinical vision, it is important to take account of Hampshire Hospitals' clinical strategy, the strategies of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Partnership of CCGs and West Hampshire CCG, the plans of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, the priorities of the Hampshire Health and Wellbeing Board and the objectives of the North and Mid-Hampshire Integrated Care Partnership.

Hospitals are only one part of a much larger NHS system. How they fit within this structure and work to support everything else is critical.

For instance, mental health provision and delivering additional care in the community are more important than ever. Equally, we work as part of a network of hospitals, and changes to services or locations within mid and north Hampshire will impact the hospitals in Southampton, Frimley, Reading, Salisbury and elsewhere. 

Ensuring that services are accessible to all who need them is a priority.

This means that services must be within reasonable reach of people who rely on them. This includes distance, travel, opening hours, appointment systems and other factors that allow people to make use of the services when they need them.

It is important that the programme promotes sustainability in three ways.

Firstly, it is to aid the development of healthy, thriving and equal communities; supporting public health initiatives.

Secondly, it should be environmentally sustainable, not just in terms of construction but operationally; including factors like transport.

Finally, it must be financially sustainable – delivering value for money.

One of the NHS’s founding principles is that it is essential for any change be consistent with the provision of a personal, fair and diverse health and care system; a system in which everyone counts equally and is treated with respect, compassion and dignity.

Equally, it is very important that care is adapted as far as possible to meet patients personal needs and circumstances.

Patient experience – how a person feels about the way they receive care – is recognised as a significant factor in the outcome of the care itself.

Factors which impact this include timely appointments, ease of travel, the environment (light, design, green spaces etc) and good communication between everyone involved.

Very much linked to patient experience is the equally important issue of staff experience.

Factors such as on-site changing areas, a pleasant working environment and ease of access (transport etc) play a significant role in boosting staff morale and aid in both recruitment and retention.

A rise in positive staff experience will also lead to expanded take up of new roles and opportunities such as becoming a physician or nursing associate.

The NHS is ever changing – as is society – and so future hospitals must be flexible and able to adapt to radically different ways of working and technology.

Equally, they must be able to reflect changing demands; such as a greater emphasis on mental health services.

Any scheme must be deliverable – to time and to budget – be practical to implement and be both safe and clinically sustainable.

Earlier in the year we launched an initial survey to determine what your priorities for healthcare were.

This information is already being used to help shape our thinking – click here to read a report on it.

It would be impossible to undertake any project like this without keeping in mind the hard-won lessons of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lessons such as how the centralising of key services meant they were more resilient and could adapt to rapidly changing needs or the critical importance of single person rooms.

Equally, the need for advanced laboratory space at a local level has been firmly underlined and adopting new technology early shown to be essential.