Hemel Hempstead downgrade to be made permanent: The reaction and the background

HH41'DS'Mike Penning at Cheer House,Hemel Hempstead Hospital
HH41'DS'Mike Penning at Cheer House,Hemel Hempstead Hospital

A service which was supposed to replace A&E at Hemel Hospital will have its hours cut permanently tomorrow.

When the town’s A&E department was closed in 2009 it was replaced by an Urgent Care Centre (UCC), which was meant to replicate many of the services whilst being open 24/7.

Hospital campaigner Edie Glatter outside Hemel Hempstead's Urgent Care Centre. ENGPNL00120131025134621

Hospital campaigner Edie Glatter outside Hemel Hempstead's Urgent Care Centre. ENGPNL00120131025134621

But in December 2016 those opening hours were ‘temporarily’ cut, with the centre only open from 8am-10pm.

And 17 months later, despite protests, a public consultation, and a re-launch of the facility as a Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC), that cut will become permanent from tomorrow.

Health bosses say that the opening hours may be extended to midnight at some point in the future.

Edie Glatter, of the Dacorum Hospital Action Group, was angry at the decision but said it was not over yet.

She told the Gazette: “We’ve been pleased to have the support of the public, the local council, and of course of MP Mike Penning.

“We always hoped that these health bodies would do the right thing. Unfortunately I am not surprised at this result, because we always knew this would probably be the result they’d get.

“But we’re not finished yet. They talk about having an independent assessment of the situation – however an independent assessment is immaterial when the whole basis of the consultation has been distorted and misleading.

“The people behind this should be ashamed of themselves.”

The final decision on opening hours will be made on Thursday (May 10) at a meeting of West Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, the body which oversees local healthcare.

Mr Penning has long had a robust relationship with both the CCG and the hospital.

He has been especially critical of the consultation process, as the opening hours were originally cut without the public having any say.

While a public consultation did take place more than a year later, Mr Penning has dismissed it as a “sham” – a view shared by Mrs Glatter.

She added: “We’ve shown in our own submission that this whole consultation has been flawed and invalid.

“We still haven’t been told basic facts, like the number of people who use the out of hours service. How can you make a decision , or ask people for their opinions, if you don’t have information like that?”

>If you would like to attend the meeting it will take place tomorrow (Thursday, May 10), from 9 am at South Hill Centre, Cemetery Hill, Hemel Hempstead.

Email your views to thegazette@jpress.co.uk