West Hertfordshire hospital campaigners slam Boris Johnson for backing plans to renovate Watford General
PUBLISHED: 16:08 08 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:08 08 October 2019
Campaigners for a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum are "shocked" that Boris Johnson is backing plans to spend millions renovating Watford General Hospital.
West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) were given a £350 million budget to spend on hospital services, the bulk of which would be spent on Watford General, with some renovations at St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson toured Watford General on Monday, October 7, and announced that he is supporting the plans to maximise investment in Watford, saying it would result in "world class facilities".
However the New Hospital Campaign (NHC) has long maintained that a new, central A&E hospital is the best option for west Herts, and hired building consultant Robert Scott to prove that the trust's plans are not workable.
Campaigner Edie Glatter said: "It seems the Prime Minister has only listened to one side - he has not had the chance to take note of the massive opposition to the Watford scheme.
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"There needs to be fresh thinking, public consultation, and a new hospital on a central, accessible site. Surely the Prime Minister wouldn't want to condemn the people of west Herts to sub-standard, inaccessible hospital provision for generations to come, while at the same time approving the plans for Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow to use their funding to build a brand new state-of-the-art hospital?"
Another campaigner, Andy Love, wrote a letter to Boris Johnson arguing that the hosital's site in Vicarage Road, Watford is unsuitable for further development.
He wrote: "Watford General Hospital is in the back streets of Watford, right next door to a Premier League football ground and built on a very steep gradient. Not the best location to be undertaking a major redevelopment of an A&E hospital over the next five to ten years."
WHHT recently received additional government funding to renovate buildings and improve mental health care at local hospitals over the next five years. If additional funds are available, NHS bosses will consider a new planned care centre in addition to renovating the existing hospitals.