Councillors told £400 million not enough for new hospital in west Herts
PUBLISHED: 16:33 23 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:33 23 October 2019
Councillors were told that the £400 million promised by the Government for hospital services would still not be enough for a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum.
Earlier this month it was confirmed the money would be available to develop hospital services in west Herts, and that was echoed days later when Prime Minister Boris Johnson toured existing facilities at Watford General Hospital.
Health bosses had already submitted a £350 million bid to renovate Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, with the bulk of the investment focused on Watford General.
However in a meeting on Wednesday, October 16, health chiefs told county councillors that this promise of an additional £50 million is still not enough to consider building a new hospital.
They told members of the council's health scrutiny committee that the promised £400 million was not in addition to funds that health commissioners had applied for, as some people had believed.
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It was also made clear that the funding would be a loan, rather than a grant - meaning millions of pounds would have to be paid back every year.
Herts county councillor Fiona Guest, who is also a member of Dacorum Borough Council, asked how the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow was able to plan for a new build hospital when west Herts could not.
Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chief executive Kathryn Magson explained there were differences between the business cases of the two organisations, but that both would have to follow the same rules and guidelines.
She said: "Ultimately our responsibility is to progress and get the best for west Hertfordshire patients - and we can only comment on our 'strategic outline case'."
Ms Magson also told councillors that one of the key tests in the allocation of funds is whether they are 'affordable' to pay back. Even on an allocation of £350 million, she said west Herts would have to pay back £16 million a year.
At the start of the meeting councillors were told that 'a resident' (the New Hospital Campaign) had applied for a judicial review, and that as a result of that process they may be restricted on what they could say.