MALVERN'S community hospital could be upgraded to "sub-acute" status in a coming revamp of the county's health-care system.

The new status could mean patients who now have to go to Worcester will be treated in Malvern, while staff there will be trained to treat a wider range of conditions.

Health bosses are looking to restructure Worcestershire's hospitals to cope with an anticipated funding shortfall of £200 million.

The option favoured by the South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group is to keep acute services at the hospitals in Worcester, Redditch and Kidderminster, but enhance community hospitals - including Malvern.

Simon Trickett, the group's chief operating officer, said: "If we carry on as we are doing now, providing exactly the same services at the same locations, we will face a £200 million shortfall by 2020, because of the rising population and the increasing number of elderly people."

The aim is to shift resources from hospitals to the community, with major hospitals concentrating on serious or life-threatening conditions.

"For Malvern, this means the community hospital will become more important as it is upgraded to sub-acute status," he said.

"This is not a matter of more physical resources because it's a very well-equipped hospital, but it will mean up-skilling the staff, and increasing the medical cover, with daily wards rounds by doctors.

"Some people who currently go to Worcestershire Royal should instead be treated closer to their homes in Malvern, and some people who currently go to the community hospital could be treated at home or in the community."

"Malvern Community Hospital is very well suited to upgrading because it's so new and the building is of the highest standard."

At a meeting of Malvern Hills District Council's overview and scrutiny committee, where Mr Trickett presented his report, coun David Harrison suggested they should try to access Section 106 money, paid out by developers to fund community facilities, to help cover the shortfall.

He said: "In my particular area we've had 120 houses approved, and there are lots of others around the area being approved."

Mr Trickett said the health authorities will be working very closely with district councils, and looking at boosting funding with Section 106 money will be part of that.