STRUCTURE: The Royal Berkshire Foundation Trust has argued that Heatherwood Hospital should be closed, with funding diverted to its own Brants Bridge clinic in Bracknell.

The recommendation was made jointly with Frimley Park Foundation Trust, and has been revealed by a pre-consultation document published as part of the local Shaping the Future service reconfiguration programme.

The report, published this week, said that the Royal Berkshire’s response was “almost identical” to Frimley Park’s.

Their response said that if surgical services were withdrawn from Heatherwood Hospital “there would still be options available within 25 minutes drive”. The trusts said that Heatherwood was “likely to be unviable”, and Brants Bridge was currently also making a loss.

“If [Brants Bridge] were to be developed to include day surgery… this would be a whole system solution representing best value for the local health economy.” The trusts also raised concerns over patient safety at Heatherwood in the long term.

The trusts’ proposals run counter to those shaped by local partners led by Berkshire primary care trust cluster, which will go out to consultation in mid October. The latest public plans would strip the minor injuries unit and inpatient rehabilitation services out of Heatherwood, leaving it as an elective surgery site.

The changes would be complete by April 2015. Early plans to redevelop Heatherwood hospital are being pursued, potentially funded by the sale of some of the site.

The business case for the changes says that even with the reconfiguration, there will still be a need for Heatherwood and Wexham Park Foundation Trust “to find an NHS partner to work with to deliver collaborative/merger benefits to ensure services are sustainable”.