St Albans Hospital is not under threat of closure, say bosses
- Credit: Archant
HEALTH chiefs have moved to reassure St Albans residents that the hospital is not under threat of closure, despite rumours to the contrary.
A former St Albans MP has vowed to spearhead a campaign to save the city’s hospital after being warned it might be sold.
But health bosses have hit back and refuted that claim, saying that the future shape of St Albans Hospital on Waverley Road has not yet been decided as it is still under review.
Kerry Pollard, who represented St Albans from 1997 to 2005, told the Herts Advertiser the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust was “millions of pounds in the red and may have to sell assets to keep itself afloat”.
He added: “I have received information from a reliable source that the possibility of selling the hospital is one of the options the trust is considering.
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“It’s a prime site, within walking distance of the city.”
Also voicing her concern for the future of the facility was Green party spokeswoman Jill Mills, who said losing the hospital would be a “disaster” for elderly residents.
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But Antony Tiernan, director of communications for the trust, tried to dampen fears, saying: “There will definitely be health care services on the St Albans site.”
He added: “I can’t necessarily say whether it will be losing some services, or offering more.”
The future shape of all three of the trust’s hospitals at Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans is under review, with the outcome to be revealed in autumn this year.
Mr Tiernan said no decision had yet been reached on St Albans Hospital.
He explained:“The shape of the building may be changed, depending on whether it ends up offering fewer or more services.
“But there will be health services offered there, and they would need to be provided from a building.”
Pressed on whether the hospital would remain as it is, Mr Tiernan said that services would “probably be in the building that is already there, but it would have to be upgraded.”
Mr Tiernan admitted that the possibility of selling part of the site was being considered in the review.
The hospital, which provides a wide range of elective care, outpatient and diagnostic services, occupies a 6.1-hectare freehold site.
Mr Tiernan disputed Kerry Pollard’s comment about the trust being in debt to the tune of millions of pounds, saying that as of the end of June it was £900,000 in the red, and there were hopes that would become a £600,000 surplus by the end of the financial year.
The review of all three sites is based on discussions with doctors, nurses and other medical staff, as well as patient representatives and NHS partners.