New A&E Hospital needed for west Herts to support growing population
PUBLISHED: 18:00 14 September 2018
A campaigner is urging local councils and health authorities to take advantage of a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to build a new A&E hospital central to west Herts.
Andy Love, alongside members of the New Hospital Campaign (NHC), has petitioned for an A&E hospital to be built central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum, rather than relying on the renovation of existing services at Watford General.
Herts county council has vowed to support local district and borough councils in the delivery of 100,000 new homes and 100,000 new jobs over the next 15 years, and Andy believes the county will not have the infrastructure to support the resulting additional 250,000 to 300,000 residents.
Currently West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) has a plan to develop Watford General Hospital, in Vicarage Road, Watford, over a period of 12 years. However the New Hospital Campaign is arguing that the hospital is not easily accessible by public transport and the redevelopment will cause severe disruption.
Andy said: “The once in a lifetime opportunity is available today - build a New A&E Hospital in a more accessible and central location for all in West Herts and look to include every thing that will make the hospital future proof and self-sufficient.
“Over time this is the solution that will save millions of pounds because it will not involve the patching-up of a hard to get to hospital that already has a predetermined layout.”
Andy believes that a new hospital would be able to incorporate a teaching hospital, facilities to take air ambulances, bus and taxi terminals, and can be built to meet current NHS standards as well as being green and energy efficient.
He said: “Any redevelopment of existing hospital sites will bring uncertainty, disruption, delays and unforeseen problems. Redevelopment will also be open to being downscaled or postponed especially where unforeseen events escalate costs.
“Wouldn’t it be a disgrace, should the redevelopment of Watford General Hospital go ahead, that the final cost of doing so was found to be far more than the building a brand new state of the art A&E Hospital?”
The plan for growth in Herts was outlined in the county council’s Horizons magazine, and emphasised the need for infrastructure to support an increased population.
Derrick Ashley, cabinet member for growth and infrastructure, said: “We want to make sure that growth works for everyone and that any new development is co-ordinated and properly thought through. We want the county to be made up of economically, socially and environmentally sustainable developments, where people want to live and work.”
Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning has urged the Government to back the campaign in a letter to Steve Barnett, chair of WHHT, and Dr Nicolas Small, chair of Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group.
He said: “Local hospital campaigners have made an excellent case which proves beyond doubt that it will be far more cost effective – as well as beneficial for local residents – to build a new hospital on a new site rather than pump more money into the badly located Watford site.
“A new state-of-the-art hospital would have the benefit of being purpose-built, with opportunities to expand, ample car parking (which should be free and level!) and be in a good position for any major incidents on the M1, M25 or in north-west London.
“With the redevelopment of Crown Estate land close to Junction 8 of the M1 we have a golden opportunity for a great site. I urge the Trust to consider this option and any others that are central, accessible and available so we can all work together - the Trust, the CCG, MPs, elected representatives and campaigners – to get it built.”
A Herts Valley Clincial Commissioning Group spokesperson said: “We can assure residents that our hospital plans take account of future demand for services, including factoring in population growth.
“We also need to plan future hospital provision in the context of overarching plans to transform health and social care. We’re working to increase the amount of community-based health services and care at home so that ultimately we avoid people having to go to hospital wherever possible.”