Campaigners to hold meeting on future of hospital services in St Albans, Watford and Dacorum

Watford General Hospital

Watford General Hospital - Credit: Archant

Campaigners for a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum are holding a public meeting to canvas support.

The New Hospital Campaign sent a letter to NHS bosses protesting a joint announcement from West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust (WHHT) and Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) last month, where they ruled out building a new A&E hospital due to insufficient funding.

The letter, by campaigner Ron Glatter, said: “The two bodies are planning to exclude any new site option from further consideration on the grounds that it is unaffordable, and only options based on redeveloping Watford General would be taken forward.

“No evidence was provided in support of the announcement, which drew gasps of astonishment from the audience.

“This was extraordinary given that we had provided WHHT with numerous detailed analyses drawn up by our construction specialist Robert Scott showing that a clear site solution would be far more affordable and much less risky than the redevelopment alternative.”

The campaigners believe that redeveloping Watford General over the next 12 years will cause “massive” disruption for patients and staff, while a new hospital in a central location would be cheaper to run and easier to access by public transport.

The meeting will outline the campaign group’s view of the NHS’s plans, and a view of how a new hospital would look.

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In the NHS announcement, WHHT and HVCCG explained that proposals need to be capped at £350 million, to be in line with the trust’s annual turnover.

According to the trust, proposals will aim to include as much new build as can be afforded, but the available finances would not be enough to fund a comprehensive rebuild of all emergency and planned care facilities.

WHHT’s acting CEO Helen Brown said: “Given the financial constraints, any option will involve some compromise but we are determined to find a solution that will bring real benefits to patients and staff.”

The meeting will be held at 7.30pm on Monday, March 4, at Greenwood Park Community Centre, Tippendell Lane, Chiswell Green.

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