CCG backs hospital trust's plans for rebuild of Watford Hospital ahead of greenfield option

Plans to rebuild Watford General Hospital are preferred to a new greenfield site by health bosses
Plans to rebuild Watford General Hospital are preferred to a new greenfield site by health bosses

Health chiefs have favoured rebuilding Watford General Hospital instead of looking at a new hospital on a local greenfield site.

Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) has supported West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust’s decision not to pursue a greenfield option for a new hospital for the area.

At a meeting in Watford yesterday, the board members voted unanimously to support West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust’s strategy to rebuild on the Watford site.

And Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning says that board members at the meeting were not presented with a greenfield option at all, and stated that he was 'disappointed, but not surprised' at the decision.

Mr Penning said: “They are making a terrible decision on this. This decision will affect health services in this area for up to the next 60 years. Clearly over such a long timescale the Watford site is not suitable. It is not even suitable now!

“Anyone with any common sense would see that we should all work together to persuade NHS England that in the long-term a new centrally located solution is the sensible way forward.”

The Gazette reported on Wednesday that the health chiefs would be presented with 10 files from The New Hospital Campaign, which is in favour of building a new hospital on green belt land in West Herts.

Among the dossier were papers by a highly qualified and experienced expert in construction, Robert Scott, who has been involved in several NHS projects.

Through what the New Hospital Campaign calls “very detailed analysis” the Scott report shows that “redeveloping the Vicarage Road site would be far more expensive, costing at least £220 million extra, it would take far longer and it would be a great deal more risky, than building a new hospital on a new site.”

The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust wants to keep the main acute hospital at the Vicarage Road site in Watford, and that decision has now been backed by the CCG.

Mr Penning added: "Much of the discussion focused on meeting legal criteria for ‘public engagement’ rather than listening to what the public actually say. It was more about justifying what they are doing than doing the right thing.

“It is clear that the decision had already been made. The choice was made out to be ‘we either accept this or face endless delays’ with red-herrings about sites in Redbourn or objectors in Kings Langley thrown in.”

Mr Penning says the Trust is putting forward two options for further consideration. Neither option includes a new greenfield site and both are centred on Watford.

He said: "The hospital campaigners have done a great job and put up a strong case, headed up by experts in the field with many years’ experience. But the Trust, and now the CCG, haven’t listened, preferring instead to listen to armies of consultants.

“Representatives of all local political parties and hospital campaigns attended the meeting. Whatever has gone on before, one thing we all agree on is that a new centrally located hospital is the best solution for everybody for the future.

“This is disappointing, but not the end. We will fight them at every opportunity. The people deserve to be properly consulted and listened to – not just ‘engaged with’, whatever that means!”