Football success could put lives in danger

Many of Hemel Hempstead Hospital's buildings now stand empty.
Many of Hemel Hempstead Hospital's buildings now stand empty.

Watford FC’s promotion to the Premier League could risk people’s lives in Hemel Hempstead, according to the Labour Party.

Traffic when heading to Watford General Hospital has been a safety concern since Hemel Hempstead’s A&E department closed six years ago.

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But fears for lives have been re-ignited because roads are expected to get busier as spectators flock to see top tier football in Watford town.

Hemel Hempstead Labour Party member Luke Sills said: “There is going to be a 15 per cent increase in people going to the match games.

“Possibly 15 per cent more people on the roads equals a longer journey time, which could threaten lives.”

Hemel Hempstead Hospital’s A&E department was downgraded in 2009, which means emergencies now go to Watford hospital, which is next door to the 21,577-capacity football stadium.

The Labour Party is calling for urgent action as a new fast track access road to Watford hospital is not due to be completed until autumn 2016.

Despite concerns, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust insists the increase in football visitors will not affect those travelling to hospital

Deputy chief executive Lynn Hill said: “While average attendance at Watford Football Club on match days is expected to increase from around 16,500 to 20,000, access to Watford hospital will not be affected, with normal diversions in place for both ambulances, staff, patients and visitors.

“Work is already underway to build a new link road to the hospital and this will significantly speed up journey times to and from the hospital.”