Hemel Hempstead MP calls for hospital boss to resign

Mike Penning at Cheer House,Hemel Hempstead Hospital
Mike Penning at Cheer House,Hemel Hempstead Hospital

MP Mike Penning has called for the resignation of the West Herts Hospitals Trust chief executive.

Mr Penning says that Katie Fisher should leave her role, after he learnt that Hemel Hospital is to be downgraded once more, with the urgent care centre (UCC) to be replaced by an ‘urgent treatment centre’ (UTC).

The MP said he had not be told the news, until informed by the Gazette yesterday, despite the saga of the UCC having begun in December.

Mr Penning said: “Katie’s position is now untenable.

“The UCC was originally supposed to replace our A&E in 2009. Last December it was cut from 24 hours a day to closing between 10pm-8am.

“She categorically promised that this was nothing to do with money. We were told that the overnight closures were temporary.

“This simply isn’t acceptable.”

West Herts Hospitals Trust has sites in Hemel, St Albans and Watford, but patients in Dacorum have had to travel to Watford since Hemel’s A&E closed in 2009.

The UCC treats people with ailments such as broken bones and minor head injuries, but when it closed overnight bosses blamed a shortage of qualified doctors who were prepared to work there overnight.

Mr Penning said that patients might have been prepared to accept a changed service – but only if hospital bosses had kept them informed.

He added: “It’s a management issue. The doctors and nurses on the frontline do fantastic work, but the senior management on six-figure salaries do not.

“Seombody has to realise that they can’t keep going on like this.”

Katie Fisher, chief executive of West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We will be working closely with Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), GPs and other partners to make sure the new urgent treatment centre meets the healthcare needs of people in Hemel Hempstead.

“The CCG, which commissions clinical services, has advised us that the centre will initially operate in much the same way as the current urgent care centre – it will have the same opening hours and provide the same services. However, we are pleased to hear that the CCG is looking to extend the existing range of services and to revisit the opening hours and we will be contributing to this examination.

“We remain committed to providing a thriving range of services in Hemel Hempstead. Trust staff have been meeting with residents in Hemel Hempstead to discuss what health services they need locally and we are looking forward to continuing those discussions.”