MP tables motion calling for new acute hospital in west Herts

Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning.

Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for a new acute hospital in west Herts. - Credit: Archant

The fight for a new hospital in west Herts is heading to Parliament.

Hemel MP Sir Mike Penning has tabled an Early Day Motion calling for a new acute hospital to be built on a greenfield site in the area.

The motion reads: "That this House notes that the acute hospital in Watford was the first hospital to be built under the reign of Queen Victoria; further notes that the hospital has since been developed in an ad hoc manner and that the deterioration of its facilities has made it harder for the excellent doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff to carry out their work; notes that there is a lack of affordable parking facilities for staff, patients and visitors as a result of its location next to a Premier League football club; recognises the further pressure put on the hospital's facilities following the closure of acute services at St Albans and Hemel Hempstead which were opposed by the majority of local residents; and calls on the Government to halt the taxpayer-funded redevelopment of the Watford site and welcome the news that £590 million is available for a new acute hospital on a greenfield site that can serve all of the growing population of West Hertfordshire."

Early Day Motions are used by MPs to raise awareness of issues they are concerned about and to highlight the issue with Government ministers.

Sir Mike said: “It is obvious that trying to upgrade or even rebuild the hospital on the existing site will be nigh on impossible whilst keeping it fully operational. It is also a completely unsuitable location to fairly serve the people of Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

“So I will continue to use every opportunity to put pressure on the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust to see common sense.

“By building on a new site, the Trust could equally serve the people of Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans with easy access, plenty of space for expansion and offer free (and level) car parking for staff, patients and visitors alike.”

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“I understand Watford residents may be worried they will lose their hospital, but there is no reason why they cannot keep some non acute services on the Vicarage Road site.

“I call on all West Hertfordshire MPs to back my Early Day Motion.”

But St Albans MP Daisy Cooper does not believe time should be wasted looking at other sites for a new hospital.

“I continue to support the decision of the hospital trust to deliver significantly improved facilities as soon as possible. As I've said all along, there’s a real risk that by spending more time looking at other options and sites, our local trust could lose access to funding completely, and that would be a disaster for all of us in West Herts.

"I’ve also been reassured that the existing buildings at Watford General, which are in a poor state of repair, will not be retained for clinical use.

“St Albans City Hospital already has a new cutting-edge orthopaedic centre and in time, it will also be home to a new rapid cancer diagnostic centre, and improved operating theatre capacity too. It is fantastic news that St Albans residents will finally have these state-of-the-art services on their doorstep."

Ron Glatter of the New Hospital Campaign said: "Sir Mike is absolutely right.  The latest plans for rebuilding Watford hospital, based on three high-rise blocks going up to 18 storeys in an area half the size of the present site is absolutely crazy.

"Also the trust's latest polling of local residents shows how vital it is to be able to reach the hospital easily, especially for frequent visitors and those with disabilities.

"The present site is in completely the wrong place and if it goes ahead we'll be stuck with it till nearly the end of the century, as it's a plan for 60 years.  It would be a shocking misuse of resources. We need a new hospital on a clear site that we can all get to."