Hospital campaigners have reacted with anger after health chiefs decided to ignore pleas for a new hospital to serve west Hertfordshire.
Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which oversees healthcare across the area, have decided to instead redevelop Watford and St Albans hospitals, with more services set to be taken from Hemel Hempstead.
Patients have been fighting against these proposals, claiming that the region would be better served by an all-new facility on greenbelt land.
Ron Glatter of the New Hospital Campaign told the Gazette: “This was absolutely no surprise.
“The CCG had worked together with the West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust to produce the strategic outline case so they were hardly likely to admit that they had got it wrong.
“We believe it makes a mockery of the decision-making process when it is not truly independent.”
Campaigners also accuse health chiefs of ignoring their input.
Robert Scott is an experienced construction expert with a background in NHS projects, who submitted five papers to the consultation. “There is absolutely no doubt that their construction proposals to refurbish or redevelop the Watford site are badly flawed and the costs that they have reported are totally underestimated,” he said.
“Construction of a new hospital on a clear site can be delivered more quickly at a significantly lower cost, and the end result would be far superior.”
Dr Nicolas Small, chairman of the CCG board, said: “Our decision represents a big step towards providing improved hospital facilities, complemented by a wide range of more local, joined-up services to meet the majority of people’s health and care needs, close to where they live.”
He added: “Some patient groups – particularly from the Dacorum area – have been impassioned in their feedback, arguing strongly for a new hospital on a greenfield site. That was very evident in the attendance at our meeting.
“We have said that it is our priority and duty is to develop a workable proposal that we feel is realistic and capable of being delivered in a very challenging financial climate. Our regulators have only recently reminded us that our plans to be affordable.”