Health Clinics across Hampshire face axe in new Council cuts plan

Dozens of jobs could be at risk as some health clinics across Hampshire could be closed for good and several services face cuts, it has been revealed.

Health centres such as the Winchester substance misuse treatment hub and sexual health clinics in Alton, Hythe, New Milton, Ringwood and Romsey are at risk of closure.

The number of venues providing face-to-face stop smoking services could go from 33 to 18 while the number of health visitors, school nurses and community staff nurses could be slashed with 47 jobs at risk.

Other services such as HIV and syphilis self-sampling service as well as counselling for people experiencing psychosexual problems could be axed.

Access to free emergency hormonal contraception – often called the ‘morning after pill’- at community pharmacies could be limited to those under 24.

The moves are those currently being considered by Hampshire County Council in a bid to save £6.8m by 2022.

The total number of jobs that would be at risk is yet to be confirmed.

The council said the proposals come as “opportunities to further reduce costs are getting harder to find”.

A public consultation will close on August 9th with a final decision set to be taken later this year.

But concerns have been raised with the plans being described as “a major blow” and “slap in the face”.

A worker who is likely to be affected by the proposal and does not want to be named, said: “These cuts make a mockery of the public who clapped for their NHS. They should be outraged by this covert decimation of services, which have offered vital support for decades. These cuts will ultimately cost all of us so much more in human and economic terms.”

According to official documents hundreds of residents use these services each year.

Callum Williamson, branch secretary at Hampshire UNISON, said the proposed cuts would have “a devastating impact” on Hampshire communities.

He added: “The most vulnerable would be the hardest hit. For our members who have given their all throughout the pandemic, this will be a slap in the face. The council must prioritise services for the most vulnerable and call out the government’s callous indifference to what is unfolding up and down the country.”

According to the plans, children between five and 11 would continue to receive the school nursing service but those over 12 would only be able to access digital advice.

The move would help save £2m.

But Cllr David Harrison, shadow cabinet for health at the county council, described it as “a drop in the ocean”.

He also said the permanent loss of the Winchester substance misuse treatment hub “will be a major blow” and added: “The proposals for cutting investment in all these essential services raise the prospect of dire consequences. You don’t need to be an expert on public health to understand that preventing ill health is a great deal better than the costs involved if you fail to do so. Once again, we are seeing short term thinking.”

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, cabinet member for health at the county council, said the council’s public health service is funded through a ring-fenced government grant.

She added: “The service has worked hard to reduce its costs by improving efficiency and early intervention and prevention, thereby limiting the impact of savings on front line service delivery. However, opportunities to further reduce costs are getting harder to find, and extra pressures mean that an additional £6.8 million must now be found. In order to meet the county council’s savings obligations, the service is proposing to re-focus its budget to support the public health work being undertaken more widely across the local authority, as well as continuing to improve the health of the population and deliver key mandated services.”

According to the plans face-to-face stop smoking services at the following venues might stop:

Vyne School – Basingstoke
Shakespeare Health Centre – Basingstoke
Westside Community Centre – Basingstoke
Rooksdown Community Centre – service Basingstoke
Alton Rehab Clinic – Alton
Forest Surgery – Bordon
Petersfield Hospital – Petersfield
Hilldene Centre – West End
Wallington Village Hall – Fareham
Rowner Health Centre – Gosport
Waterlooville Community Centre – Waterlooville
Ringwood MC – Ringwood
Princes Hall – Aldershot
Adelaide Medical Centre – Andover
St Paul’s Surgery – Winchester