THE future of East Hampshire’s Chase Community Hospital continues to look shaky as NHS providers set out plans to relocate clinics.
But the local clinical commissioning group, which is responsible for buying in services, said last week no decisions were likely to be made on the hospital itself until definite decisions were taken over Bordon’s proposed new health campus.
Although details on exactly what the health campus will contain have not yet been published, the facility is a long-promised part of the Whitehill and Bordon regeneration scheme.
Hampshire Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust provides a number of services at The Chase – including ear, nose and throat (ENT); audiology; maxillofacial; paediatrics and X-ray – all of which the trust thinks should go elsewhere.
In fact, the trust said it was ‘keen to re-locate as many of the services as possible’ from The Chase Community Hospital to Alton Community Hospital.
But discussions are under way between the clinical commissioning group and potential alternative providers for some of these services, which could still appear at the new Whitehill and Bordon health campus.
In a communications plan, the Hampshire Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust said: “The number of patients using these services is small and is reducing.
“This, in turn, means that continuing to provide these services to local numbers of patients in the area is becoming operationally difficult for the trust and is not sustainable in the future.”
The ball is already rolling, with plans now in place for the ENT service to operate at Alton Community Hospital from June 21.
The report explained the outpatient services see an average of 46 appointments in total each week across all clinics and, in the past year, the trust had treated just over 1,440 individual patients from Whitehill and Bordon as well as some from the Liphook area and surrounding villages – approximately 8.75 per cent of the local population.
Most people from the area either receive the health trust’s services at different venues or are referred to one of the following three health providers: the Frimley Health Foundation Trust, the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford and the Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Portsmouth.
Although they said they recognised relocating the services will impact on patients and the community, the trust and the clinical commissioning group said they wanted to minimise the inconvenience where possible.
They were also keen to point out other providers operate at The Chase, offering mental-health services, physiotherapy, musculoskeletal services and a sexual-health clinic among others.
With thousands of new homes being built in Whitehill and Bordon and a population boom expected, following a decrease when the Army moved out of the town – the current population of about 14,000 is expected to grow to about 21,000 by 2035 – services leaving the town, instead of arriving, might concern residents.
And when it comes to deciding which services to include in the new health campus, the status quo may become the blueprint. Speaking about these clinics, Chase League of Friends chairman Frank Williams-Thomas warned: “Once they’ve gone you’ll never get them back again”.
But for the NHS, it boils down to resources, efficiency and, in the case of the Chase, he added: “The disproportionate costs of renting space relative to the activity delivered.”
Sara Tiller, director of primary care development at the South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The CCG has always been, and remains, committed to ensuring residents in Whitehill and Bordon have access to a comprehensive range of health and well-being services.
“We are working with local GPs and partner organisations to develop an exciting new facility which would provide many of the services currently at Chase Community Hospital plus primary and community services and innovative models of care.
“We are also continuing to explore any opportunities to introduce new services to the site where feasible.
“The Chase site is owned by NHS Property Services, not the clinical commissioning group. No decisions are likely to be made on its future until definite decisions are taken over the proposed new health campus.”
A spokesman for the Hampshire Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust told The Herald the decision to move the ENT clinic to Alton may be ‘disappointing’ for patients, but was ‘unfortunately necessary.’
Whitehill and Bordon is one of the NHS’ 10 Healthy New Towns nationwide – a scheme which aims to establish the very best in healthcare.
Grayshott councillor Ferris Cowper who heads the regeneration project for EHDC, has been pressing for a new health campus.