Growing fears over future of health facilities in St Albans and Harpenden

Harpenden Memorial Hospital.

Harpenden Memorial Hospital. - Credit: Archant

A patients’ group has called on health chiefs to open an urgent care centre at St Albans Hospital and develop facilities at Harpenden Memorial Hospital.

Responding to the “Your Care, Your Future” survey of peoples’ views of current health services, as part of a wider review, St Albans & Harpenden Patient Group (SAPG) has also called for the improvement of the standard of home care and care homes.

The survey, which ends in February, was initiated by NHS organisations in West Herts which are working with the county council to plan for the local population’s health and social care needs.

In a detailed response the patients group said people in St Albans and Harpenden “are concerned by the loss of A&E at St Albans Hospital, by rumours about the hospital’s survival, the poor provision of public transport to the site and the quantity and cost of car parking space.

“Patients criticise long waits for phlebotomy tests and regret that hearing-aid batteries must be collected from the hospital rather than GP surgeries.”

The group explained that with unused facilities and wards at both St Albans and Hemel Hempstead Hospitals, “the review should investigate how to use their capacity for the most efficient provision of health and social care.

“There is scope for the reconfiguration of both St Albans and Hemel, either to bring existing facilities into full use…or to redevelop and provide some new buildings with a smaller footprint.”

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SAPG added: “The Harpenden Society has been worried by the apparent decline of Harpenden Memorial Hospital.

“We support developing facilities at [the] hospital]”.

But it criticised the complex system of health and social care provision, as these are supplied by several providers and “there seems to be little overall coordination in west Herts”.

John Wigley, SAPG chairman, has urged locals to attend a meeting on local hospitals next Wednesday (28), from 8-9pm, at the district council’s offices in the Civic Centre.

Referring to the recent sudden announcement of the resignation of hospitals trust chief executive Samantha Jones about a week before her departure, John said the fate of the city’s hospital was “uncertain” and people should “take this opportunity to explain your concerns about it.

“The trust’s work is currently subject to a strategic review, led by a team from Deloitte and David Radbourne, an experienced hospital administrator who will be at the meeting.”

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