Your letters to the Herts Ad...
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West Hertfordshire NHS Hospitals Trust is working with our partners on exciting plans to ensure we provide first class facilities for all our patients.
Redeveloping hospital facilities is just one part of a big programme called Your Care, Your Future which will transform health services for patients in west Hertfordshire. Lots of different providers, including GPs, social care, community health service, mental health services and hospitals are working together to redesign services so that in the future patients will be able to access care and support closer to where they live rather than having to travel to hospital unnecessarily.
In terms of hospital sites, we are currently working on plans for a major investment of between £300m and £600m in emergency and specialist care facilities at Watford General Hospital.
There are also some very exciting options linked to the Watford Riverwell development to completely transform the environment for patients, visitors and staff.
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At the same time, we want to make a substantial investment in St Albans City Hospital as our main site for planned surgery. We also want to offer more ‘one stop’ services – where patients can access outpatient care and diagnostics in one visit – this will be more convenient for patients and enable faster diagnosis and treatment, which is particularly important for cancer services.
We also want to develop services in Hemel Hempstead to provide a range of urgent, ambulatory and outpatient care, with more of a focus on medical specialties such as respiratory, diabetes and cardiology.
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To make these ambitious plans a reality we have to secure the necessary approvals and funding.
The very rigorous NHS and Treasury business case and approvals process means all options must be fully considered from a ‘do minimum’ refurbishment to new build.
The bottom line is that we are committed to providing patient care from the best buildings and facilities possible.
Local residents have waited a long time for much-needed improvements to our estate and we are keenly awaiting an update on the approvals process.
PROFESSOR STEVE BARNETT
Chairman, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust
In the Herts Ad of August 11 it was good to read about Thameslink and its improving services. Let’s hope it continues.
However Stuart Cheshire, the GTR passenger service director, was dismissive of the reduction in the proportion of seats in the new 12-carriage Class 700 trains which are now in use.
He is happy to stand for 18 minutes on the tube en route for Monument, but I am not happy to stand for 18 minutes between St Albans and St Pancras.
Some of us have conditions which mean than standing still for long periods can be very painful, but we are reluctant to ask for a seat as we are not visibly disabled.
I am lucky to be no longer a commuter, but not so lucky to have to endure on the new trains the uncomfortable upright seats with no lumbar support - almost as bad as sitting on a chair designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the late 19th century.
ALISON METCALFE Barncroft Way, St Albans
I write to thank you for publishing the report of archaeological finds in Harpenden. I have no doubt that the quick response by Herts county council in issuing a statement came in response to enquiries from your paper.
It is unlikely that you would have known of the frustration felt by local residents recently, well aware of previous investigative work as reported by the Herts Ad.
During a series of pre-planning exhibitions a month ago, residents heard those seeking to develop the site – including Herts county council – dismiss the site’s archaeological potential even as their own investigations began.
Our organisation, Right School Right Place, received numerous reports of officers, representatives of the Trust and its partners/contractors responding to visitors’ questions about the archaeology.
Questions were met with statements denying any archaeology on site and dismissing previous work that identified the potential.
Personally I was advised by a senior member of the Trust that nothing was there, at the same time questioning the source of the previous work.
It is ironic that that work had been undertaken by a former pupil of the incoming head’s previous school – hardly encouraging for prospective pupils.
Perhaps of greater concern is that when the most recent investigative work initially began on the site in spring, we contacted St Albans district council, as the planning authority, for assurance that work would respect the archaeological potential of the site.
A reply was received that the matter would be looked into. A few weeks later when work intensified and no further information had been volunteered, I contacted my district councillor, whose current responsibilities lie in planning, to investigate further – again no response.
So thank you again for showing that there is some sense of public accountability in some of our public bodies and shame on you Trust for eroding public trust in you.
DAVID CAIRNS Right School Right Place
On Saturday August 19 while walking through Verulamium Park I noticed that every bench had a ‘wet paint’ sign strung up on it. It was a pleasant day in the middle of the holiday season and the place was swarming with visitors, and the car parks were overflowing.
I mentioned to some friends that it seemed a ridiculous time to paint the benches, as none of them could be used.
I now hear that visitors suffered damaged clothing because some of the signs may have been removed. The benches are apparently painted when it suits the contractors.
Why is it that our council seem once again to be so naïve regarding the welcoming of people coming to see what St Albans has to offer?
The tourist office has been hidden away, the car parking fees go up, and now the interests of John O’Conner take precedence over visitors at a peak period.
The council should show some responsibility----and did they think to make sure O’Conner removed the signs in due time once the paint had dried to get the seats back in use?
Holyrood Crescent, St Albans
So on the very same day that a designer announces he will show his ‘Exhale’ chandelier - which contains living algae which purifies the air - at the V&A Museum and when, of course, we are all generally being encouraged to ‘green’ the city and spaces we live in, all the beautiful roses at the front of the development of flats at the former Harpenden House Hotel are dug up!
Some were very large and old plants. They fronted the whole site and were a wonderful sight in spring and summer. One of the workmen even said he had wondered if they were listed. What a crying shame.... It was suggested I get cuttings so maybe tomorrow - to preserve a part of history!
These ‘minimalist’ developers do sometimes lack imagination.
LOUISE FORSTER By email
A simple thing to do when attending open evenings for your child’s secondary school: ask about the school’s pastoral support network.
What does the school have in place to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of your child?
This is surely more important than league tables?
A happy student will want to learn, will enjoy learning and will ultimately achieve great things.
Marten Gate, St Albans
I write in the hope that my comments will resonate with others who have had the temerity to ask for a better public service in their area.
My experience over many years leads me to expect no help from any agency where the main priority is to avoid expense rather than to take action; many will state that it is not their responsibility, and the try some other department - ad infinitum!
This is a risky strategy, for concerned residents may notice a dangerous situation requiring urgent attention that a casual view might ignore.
People will discuss such dangers in passing, leaving it to others to try to rectify or perhaps report to some authority if any can be identified
But what seems obvious, soon turns into a hunt for the Right Person, from an assortment of possible local organisations all with an excuse if not a genuine reason to decline any help, or even some sympathy for your case.
Nobody expects much concern for the problems of others, so must we suffer in silence?
Could we try to see the rold through the eyes of the taxpayers who are obliged to pay for such ‘services’?
Do we really understand what is intended to satisfy our basic demands when confronted by a range of options no-one seems to manage?
Would it be possible to meet any set of potential needs with a more cooperative approach to locating an appropriate body or an individual capable of making things happen or assessing the priority?
Or are we now so crippled with political argument that sensible discussion cannot prevail, and what counts is gathering votes on your opinions?
We need less dogma and more common sense to solve everyday issues as necessary, so it is possible that we can create another door marked ‘welcome# instead of ‘not my problem’.
It would be a great relief to find ‘joined-up thinking’ was available at last! Perhaps the vital volunteers would feel able to return...
KEN PEAK London Colney Village Concern Richardson Close, London Colney
I would like to know why there isn’t a shop in the city centre that sells dairy-free and vegan food. I have IBS and I have to have dairy-free food which is so hard to get.
Tesco sells a little bit, Marks & Spencer sells none, Waitrose sells none, McColls sells none, Morrisons sells some and Sainsbury’s sells quite a bit.
We have an empty shop in the city centre which has been empty for over a year.
Why not make it into a dairy-free supermarket?
As it is, from where I live I have to travel three miles to get my dairy-free food and I have to rely on buses which is very tiring.
Years ago we had every shop we needed in the city centre.
We even had two pet shops one of which was Pinnocks in Catherine Street.
Now we have nothing - all we have are restaurants and coffee shops. If we didn’t have the market St Albans would be dead.
St Albans is a lovely place to live but a lousy place to shop. We need a dairy-free shop now!
MISS MG FOSTER Arundel Grove, St Albans