Have your say on the future of hospital services in West Herts

St Albans City Hospital

St Albans City Hospital - Credit: Archant

The future of hospital services in West Herts are under the spotlight with a series of proposals going out for consultation until the middle of next month.

A number of options are being considered, ranging from building a completely new hospital in West Herts to consolidating all acute services at Watford General or a combination of provision of acute and daycare services on two sites, one of which would be St Albans City.

Currently Watford General serves as the main acute hospital in West Herts, housing the accident and emergency department, intensive care and maternity services.

St Albans City Hospital, which has a minor injuries unit, is used for planned surgery and a range of diagnostic, outpatient and ophthalmic facilites as well as a breast care unit. Hemel Hempstead Hospital has an urgent care centre and offers diagnostic services including MRI and a busy outpatient services.

But there has long been criticism of the splitting of services on three different sites and the difficulties in getting to the various different hospitals, particularly Watford which is in the town centre and adjoins a Premier League site’s ground.

The document Your Care, Your Future has been compiled by local NHS organisations and Herts County Council and looks at the way in which hospital and other health services should be provided in the future.

It is specifically asking the community to comment on the provision of hospital services in the current consultation which runs until September 21.

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The Dacorum Hospital Action Group in Hemel Hempstead has been pushing hard for the building of a new hospital in West Herts but no such head of steam has emerged in St Albans.

Your Care, Your Future puts forward three main options for the future of hospital services and lists the pros and cons of each.

While conceding that a new hospital in a central location would be purpose-built to meet the acute care needs of the local population, could be safer because all services would be on one site, and staff would not be spread as thinly as they are currently across three sites, the big stumbling block is the cost.

It would be the most expensive option as well as meaning that people in Watford, which has the largest single population in West Herts, would need to travel further and staff might not be happy about relocating.

Centralising acute care at Watford is regarded as providing greater flexibility for clinicians with all services on one site and avoiding spreading staff too thinly across three sites. But the doument recognises that older and disabled people, particularly those without transport, would be adversely affected and considerable building work would be needed.

The third option would provide day surgery, complex diagnostics, cancer care and outpatients at St Albans City with emergency, maternity and other existing services remaining at Watford.

St Albans is the preferred site for the last option because many services already exist at City Hospital and the site in Hemel is very hilly and would cost more to build on.

Urging people to complete an online survey, Dr Nicholas Small, chair of Herts Valleys clinical commissioning group, said local health services had already benefitted from people’s views with cardiology and respiratory services being provided much closer to where patients lived, avoiding the need for for people to travel further to hospital.

More information can be found here.