Last chance to add your name to petition for new hospital serving the St Albans district

Watford General Hospital

Watford General Hospital - Credit: Archant

A petition to build a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum is ending next month, and needs more signatures in order to be considered by the Government.

Thomas Sawyer Way in Watford will open to the public from November 16, 2016

Thomas Sawyer Way in Watford will open to the public from November 16, 2016 - Credit: Photo supplied

The New Hospital Campaign (NHC) group argues that a new A&E Hospital is needed in west Herts instead of redeveloping the existing Watford General Hospital in Vicarage Road, Watford.

The petition, which was started by campaigner Andy Love, calls on NHS decision makers to instruct West Herts Hospital Trust (WHHT) to amend their strategic outline case - proposing a hospital in a more central location.

According to the NHC, Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group assessed 19 potential sites for a new hospital via a consultancy firm, and decided that a site in Kings Langley would be more suitable than Vicarage Road.

Another suggested site, known as the ‘East Hemel’ site, is within St Albans district and is owned by the Crown estate. Both sites, the NHC has argued, are central to all major areas in west Herts and could be suitable for a hospital.

NHC spokesman Ron Glatter said: “The strategic outline case was saying the main acute hospital will stay at the present location in Vicarage Road, and there will be a development programme that would start in 2020 and then be done in 10 years, so not completed until 2030/2031.

“We are going to have St Albans City Hospital to do some of the planned operations and more difficult operations will still be done at Watford, and there will be some development on the St Albans site as well.”

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“Our construction expert, Robert Scott, has gone through this and taken it to NHS Improvement. What he is saying is it would be much cheaper and quicker, we’d get a far better result for patients and staff and it would be much easier to manage the changeover if we had a new acute hospital in a central location between Watford, St Albans and Dacorum.

“He’s given this in great detail and all the evidence to support his case.”

A previous petition was rejected by the Department of Health last year after reaching 10,000 signatures. The Department of Health stated that the WHHT had ruled out the option of building a new hospital, saying it would not be affordable or deliverable.

Mr Glatter said: “If you try and rebuild on that tight site in Watford it would be very risky because you wouldn’t know what you would find. It would be very tricky for the patients and the staff to cope with.

“If you had a new hospital the changeover would be much easier to manage as different units were finished.”

“This is going to affect future generations. We’re talking about the next 60 years and if we get this wrong the implications of that are huge.”

“We hope that they will see this is not a practical way forward and that at the very least they look at this alternative proposal.”

“From St Albans and Dacorum it would be easier and quicker to get to the new site by public transport and by car. It’s very difficult to travel to Watford General and it takes a very long time in emergencies.

“It’s completely the wrong location as it’s often very congested.”

Campaigner Andy Love, who started the petition, said: “Campaigners for a new A&E hospital need St Albans and District’s residents, and west Herts residents in general, to back the petition and make sure that the NHS decision makers are aware of the strength of feeling against WHHT’s plans for keeping our A&E hospital at Vicarage Road.

“With a fast-growing and ageing population forecast for west Herts, we need an A&E hospital which is built with the longer term in mind.”

Helen Brown, deputy chief executive of the WHHT, said: “We have submitted our strategic outline case (SOC) to NHS Improvement, the healthcare regulators.

“We need their green light before we can proceed to the next stage in the process. The next stage is developing the outline business case which will identify a final preferred option with initial designs for planning consent.

“A full business case is then developed. In the meantime, we eagerly await the outcome of NHSI’s review of the business case.”

The petition currently has more than 4,000 signatures, but needs 10,000 to be considered by the Government. The deadline to reach the targeted number of signatures is Wednesday, May 23.

To sign the petition go to