West Herts hospital campaigners reach fundraising target
PUBLISHED: 06:59 27 November 2019
Campaigners for a new hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum have met their £20,000 fundraising target to mount a judicial review against NHS bosses.
The New Hospital Campaign (NHC) began their legal action after Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) and West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) stated their preferred option to renovate existing hospitals rather than build a new one.
After being given a £350 million spending limit by the government, HVCCG and WHHT plan to spend the bulk of the money on Watford General, with smaller renovations made at St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals.
Edie Glatter, of the NHC, said: "We would like to thank the local community for their huge support and generosity, and everyone who has helped spread the word.
"You have made it possible for us to reach yet another milestone, following the boost we got a few weeks ago when a judge granted us permission to bring the case - which is only given to about one in five claims - and he also set a cap on our possible costs.
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"It is essential that the local health bodies now run a full and fair consultation, including taking a serious look at building a new hospital on a clear site that everyone in west Hertfordshire can get to.
"It is the only way our local hospital provision can be transformed as it truly needs to be, because it is in far worse condition than most other areas."
The money was raised through a crowdfunding campaign, with nearly £10,000 donated online and the rest through direct payments to the NHC's bank account.
Campaigners have pointed to other trusts which are promoting building a new hospital as a serious option, such as the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust in Harlow.
The NHC and their lawyers are now waiting for the date of the full hearing, which will depend on how busy the High Court is, and may be several months away.
An additional £50 million from the government was recently made available for west Herts, but HVCCG said the extra money was still not enough to consider building a new hospital.
The funding is also a loan not a grant - meaning millions of pounds will have to be paid back every year.