West Herts hospital activists meet with national NHS regulators to promote their case

PUBLISHED: 12:00 28 August 2017

The NHC steering group with Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning at Portcullis House.

The NHC steering group with Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning at Portcullis House.


Campaigners fighting for a new hospital at a central location in west Herts have met with top NHS regulators to discuss their proposals.

New Hospital Campaign (NHC) representatives joined Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning and Ross Ewing, representing St Albans MP Anne Main, in Westminster.

The group met the chief executive of NHS Improvement, Jim Mackey and two of his colleagues, and presented evidence relating to concerns about the local NHS’ plans to redevelop the current hospital in Vicarage Road, Watford over a period of 13 years with the associated risk and disruption.

In his previous role as chief executive of the Northumbria NHS Trust, Mr Mackey developed a groundbreaking local whole system approach by including all aspects of health and social care based around a new central hospital which has since been awarded ‘outstanding’ status by inspectors.

The NHC’s construction expert Robert Scott demonstrated that redeveloping Watford Hospital would be a far more costly and risky venture and would take much longer than building a new hospital.

The campaign has the support of St Albans MP Anne Main, who was unable to attend the meeting due to holiday commitments.

She said: “We need a new, state-of-the-art hospital for west Herts on a central, accessible site.

“The present plan, rebuilding the crumbling hospital in a hard-to-reach, congested location on Vicarage Road, Watford, over a long period up to 2030 is not a practical way forward.

“The campaign has shown that a new hospital on a new site is a far more viable option and it must surely be examined thoroughly at the next stage.

“I also wish to highlight the importance of retaining the hospital services in St Albans alongside this proposal.”

Hemel MP Mike Penning added: “I was very pleased to be able to arrange the meeting with Jim Mackey of NHS Improvement. I have to say it was one of the most positive meetings we’ve had with the NHS for years. I think we all felt he really listened to our case and was impressed by the detail and accuracy.”

Graham Cartmell, a member of the NHC steering group, said: “It was a really constructive, open exchange. We felt they took note of our point that knocking out the new hospital option at this stage can’t be justified.”

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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