Impact of the closure of Gosport's Royal Hospital, Haslar 'bigger than ever' 10 years later
THE closure of The Royal Hospital, Haslar 10 years ago was a mistake which has affected residents and put pressure on health care professionals across the region.
That is the message from residents in Gosport who have been reflecting on the closure of Haslar Hospital, which closed 10 years ago today.
Sold to developers for £3m in 2009, all services provided by the hospital were transferred to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.
But residents believe that the closure of the hospital - which operated for 256 years and was the final military hospital in the country - is one of the biggest tragedies of the town, saying that were it still around today, the pressure on QA would be greatly alleviated.
Ella Tomlinson, 85, from Gosport, said: 'I took part in the marches to save Haslar - losing it has had a terrible impact.
'They should never have closed it because I think although they work really hard, QA struggles to cope with so many people using it.'
Jonathan Morris, 48, added: 'It was a major mistake to close it because it has put so much pressure on the guys at QA.
'My daughter-in-law went to A&E a couple of weeks ago and was told there would be a five-hour wait - and that's after travelling all the way to Cosham.'
Matthew Blair, 79, said: 'There's just too much going on for the health professionals to cope with.
'QA treats people from as far away as Chichester now, and you can see the ambulances queueing up outside. I think if Haslar was still around today life would be a lot easier for the NHS.'
When news of the hospital's closure first broke in 1998, a task force was set up to try and put a halt to the government's plans.
At the head of this was former Gosport Councillor Peter Edgar.
He said: 'We spent 11 years trying to stop the hospital closing.
'I was extremely disappointed when it closed because we said it would put tremendous pressure on health care services elsewhere - our pleas were ignored and look where we are now.
'We knew that QA and Southampton would struggle, especially with the ageing population in Hampshire.'
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage says she is working with health authorities, but that people 'definitely miss' Haslar.
She said: 'Haslar was much loved and well used when it was sold in 2009 by the Labour government at a knock down price to pay for the big PFI funded rebuild of the QA.
'Since then most local health resources are now spent on the big acute hospital and although the NHS provides some care at Gosport War Memorial Hospital, local people definitely miss Haslar.'