New hospital row as politicians divided over controversial issue

MP Sir Mike Penning wants a new hospital for west Herts.

MP Sir Mike Penning wants a new hospital for west Herts. - Credit: Parliamentlive.tv

Opposing sides of the political spectrum are split over whether a new hospital should be built in west Herts.

Conservative MP Sir Mike Penning, who represents Hemel Hempstead, has called for a new hospital instead of refurbishing existing buildings in Watford. 

Sir Mike, who has long been campaigning for a new hospital on a greenfield site, welcomed the Government’s determination to build new hospitals, but urged Health Minister Sajid Javid to make sure that the hospital trusts do what they are being asked to do.

Sir Mike said: “It is bonkers that the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust are wasting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to patch-up Watford instead of building a new hospital on a new site.

"They are worried that if they change their mind now they will be kicked out of HIP1, the Prime Minister’s first group of six new hospitals, into HIP2. To be honest, if that’s what it takes to get it right, then I say fine. It is pointless rushing ahead with the wrong solution. A year or so delay would be worth it.

“Patching up the run-down Watford hospital, right next to the football club, is the wrong decision. My message to the West Herts NHS Trust is listen to the people!” 

But Lib Dem Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans, is one of several local politicians - including St Albans district council leader Chris White - urging the Government to commit to the redevelopment of Watford General Hospital and deliver the necessary funding.

In a letter to Sajid Javid, they write: "Local councils and MPs have worked hard with West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust to support plans for new facilities at Watford General Hospital, along with its sister sites in Hemel Hempstead and St
Albans.

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"Independent site feasibility studies have shown that the proposals put forward by the trust are the best and quickest route to deliver the hospital facilities local patients and our hardworking NHS staff deserve.

"As we are sure you are aware, the trust is a ‘pathfinder’ in the New Hospital Programme and has been promised the money from the Government to deliver its plans within a tight timeframe. But we understand that progress at a national level has stalled and that there is uncertainty about whether the funding will be made available to deliver the improvements that are urgently needed.

"The delay has two very negative results; firstly, it breathes new life into the campaign for an alternative plan; and secondly, it is demoralising for staff who have worked so hard over recent months to deliver the very best care for patients from an estate that is, frankly, not fit for purpose on any level.

"What we really need right now is some hope. We can offer our support but in return – and on behalf of the people we serve – we seek your assurance that funding will be agreed and allocated and decisions will be made so the trust can get on and deliver the much needed new hospital facilities that our residents have been promised."


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