St Albans MP in favour of hospital revamp plans instead of new build
PUBLISHED: 08:32 24 July 2020
St Albans MP Daisy Cooper has spoken out in favour of a hospital revamp for West Herts Hospitals Trust under the government’s Hospital Infrastructure Programme.
It recently emerged the trust, which runs St Albans City Hospital, Watford General and Hemel Hempstead General, could be eligible for a further £590m in funding which could accommodate plans to build a new, central hospital.
As well as this option, it can also use the money to revitalise its existing sites, including Watford General, which has been described by new hospital campaigners as “decaying” and “hard to reach”.
Ms Cooper has cited the coronavirus pandemic as a key reason for her views on keeping three hospital sites.
She said: “With news that the trust can now bid for a £590 million loan from the government, it’s right that the Trust keeps the option of a wholly new hospital on a long-list of options, but the ultimate decision should be made on what will deliver the best outcomes for patients.
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“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the three-site option enabled the trust to separate out COVID and non-COVID treatment, and this looks set to be even more important in the coming months and years ahead.
“On that basis, my preferred option is still for the renovation of the three sites as per current plans, and it’s likely to remain so unless there is new evidence that a single hospital can deliver better health outcomes and in a timely fashion. At the moment, I’m still unpersuaded and want to see the renovation works start as soon as possible.”
In contrast, Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning has recently tabled a motion in Parliament to halt any developments of Watford General, and use new funding for a new hospital site.
This comes as campaigners’ calls for a brand new hospital continue, particularly with the announcement of potential additional funding for the project.
A spokesman for the New Hospital Campaign, Ron Glatter, told the Herts Ad: “Daisy rightly talks about the primacy of what will produce the best outcomes for patients. That must not be just for the short term but for the decades to come, and only a new hospital on a clear site can secure it.
“That would be best for infection control as well as for all the other requirements, such as staff recruitment. There are many ways to achieve separation – one option would be for planned care to be on an existing site. We cannot be left with old, decaying buildings on a congested hard-to-reach site like Vicarage Road.”
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