Plan for new hospital near St Albans dismissed by Government

NHS England

NHS England - Credit: Archant

A campaign to build a new hospital between St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Watford has been dismissed by the Government.

The Department of Health responded to a petition, which was started by the members of the Dacorum-based New Hospital Campaign, and stated that the reconfiguration of health services is a matter for local branches of the NHS. The Government’s response referred to the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which suggested either redeveloping or building a new hospital on the site of Watford General Hospital and redeveloping St Albans City Hospital, rather than building a new hospital on a new site.

The Department of Health said: “The Trust has said that the option to build a new hospital on a new site was ruled out on affordability and deliverability grounds; the required capital investment is significantly higher than other options and it is unlikely that investment would be financially sustainable in the long term.

“In addition, the complex planning and work related to utilities and infrastructure meant that this option would take far longer.”

The campaigners for the new hospital intended it to be alternative to the controversial rail freight scheme. The hospital would be built on the Park Street Green Belt land to stop the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) being built on the same site.

Independent rail freight campaigner Andy Love said: “I find it hard to comprehend that the board of West Herts Hospital Trust, after long and lengthy deliberation, has come to the conclusion that either a new hospital on the current local of Watford General Hospital, or a redevelopment of the hospital, are the only viable solutions.

“Watford General Hospital is built on top of a sharp incline to the hospital car parks and space is limited to expand facilities.

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“St Albans Hospital has lost much of its original land which has been sold of for housing. It also has very limited parking.

“To do any major works on these sites is going to incur great disturbance and inconvenience for both hospital staff and patients. Almost unthinkable!”

The petition for a new, conveniently-located hospital was signed by 10,000 people. Two other petitions, demanding that Herts county council did not sell the Green Belt land to the SRFI developer, also reached 10,000 signatures each.