Herts Ad Comment: Your last chance to sign petition for new hospital

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STOCK Generic office - Credit: Archant

The downgrading of hospital services in the St Albans district has gained pace in recent years even as the population has increased, as more and more facilities have been moved out of City Hospital to sites elsewhere in the county.

Meanwhile, plans continue for the redevelopment of ageing Watford Hospital, a long-running project which will bring with it extensive disruption and cost, when a new hospital on a site central to Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead has the potential to be a cheaper and more effective alternative.

Over the past few months the Herts Ad has highlighted the efforts of local campaigner Andy Love to bring about a Parliamentary debate on a new central hospital, with thousands of people having now supported his petition.

He is calling on NHS decision makers to instruct West Herts Hospital Trust (WHHT) to amend their strategic outline case, arguing that an A&E hospital is needed in west Herts instead of developing the existing Watford General Hospital in Vicarage Road, while also ensuring the provisions which exist at City Hospital continue, whereas WHHT’S current plans for City will leave district residents with nothing more than a hospital catering for low risk surgery and outpatient care.

Although our own MP Anne Main has not come out in support of the proposals, her neighbour Sir Mike Penning has, and this week he tabled a motion in Parliament in support of a new, central hospital, and urged constituents to sign the petition.

He called for a new, state-of-the-art facility and added: “A hotchpotch of old crumbling buildings on a site chosen for a Victorian workhouse is not fit for 21st century medical care.”

As of writing, there are just over 7,000 signatures, a massive increase in recent weeks following extensive Herts Advertiser coverage, but still some way off from the 10,000-name target.

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A strong finish to the petition over the closing two weeks could well tip the balance in finding the funding for the new hospital we desperately need.

It seems likely that both WHHT and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group will be keeping their eye on how many in Mrs Main’s constituency sign the petition, and it won’t help the new hospital campaign if they can point out that the majority of the signatures came again from Dacorum.

If you support Andy’s campaign, but have yet to sign the petition, then please take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and add your name at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/202644