NHS may consider new planned care centre for west Hertfordshire

Campaigners are launching a judicial review calling for a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford

Campaigners are launching a judicial review calling for a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum, rather than renovating services at Watford General. Picture: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

NHS bosses will consider a new planned care centre in addition to renovating existing hospital services in west Herts if additional funds are available.

In their strategic outline case, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) and Herts Valleys Clinical Commission Group (HVCCG) submitted their preferred option for renovating hospital sites, known as option one.

This would involve using the bulk of the £350 million budget to renovate services at Watford General Hospital, with the remainder spent on renovations at St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead.

Following their submission, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the trust and the CCG to consider the suitability of a hybrid of option one and option four, which involved building a new planned care centre.

A joint statement from WHHT and HVCCG said: "[We] discussed this and the trust has been working on producing an outline - in the full knowledge that any provisional suggestions that might be taken forward would be subject to an entirely new process of engagement and decision-making.

"If we are advised that more capital is available, the CCG and the trust will respond appropriately to any further information or guidance, and in doing so we would launch a further process to consider options."

Local campaign groups, such as the New Hospital Campaign, have long argued that a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum would best suit the needs of a growing population.

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Campaigner Andy Love said: "Affordability was the main argument used by the local health authorities to dismiss the new build A&E hospital at such an early stage, so any additional funding should bring the option back to the table for a full and fair evaluation.

"In my opinion, option four would not be the best outcome for St Albans residents given that the current St Albans City Hospital would probably be sacrificed for a new planned care centre between Hemel and St Albans.

"A new and more central west Herts A&E hospital should reduce the need for St Albans residents to be passed between the three current hospitals for different tests, consultations and treatments."