Campaigners raising money to prove new hospital is ‘best option’ for west Hertfordshire

Kate Wood and Claire Banbury of the West Herts 21st Century Hospital group are trying to raise money

Kate Wood and Claire Banbury of the West Herts 21st Century Hospital group are trying to raise money to prove that a new hospital is needed between St Albans, Watford and Dacorum. Picture: West Herts 21st Century Hospital group - Credit: Archant

A new independent fundraising campaign is fighting for a new A&E hospital central to St Albans, Watford and Dacorum.

The West Herts 21st Century Hospital group is raising money to commission expert hospital architects to prove to the Department of Health that a new hospital is the best option for west Hertfordshire.

In January West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) ruled out building a new, central A&E hospital after being given a spending limit of £350 million, in favour of renovating existing services at Watford General.

The West Herts 21st Century Hospital group are sceptical about the costs, claiming that the initial estimated figure for a new hospital was £1billion, but when challenged this was lowered to around £700m.

Gordon Yearwood, who is spearheading the campaign, said: “This is still nonsense. There are new hospitals being built around the country for a lot less. The Trust is hoping to get £350m from the government to carry out a sticking plaster job on Watford General Hospital. When you factor in that the Trust loses over £50m a year of taxpayers’ money, the government will quickly be in pocket if they go for a new hospital. Most importantly, patients will have a much better experience. Ambulances queueing outside A&E, beds in corridors, totally inadequate parking - all these will be eliminated.”

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The group is now crowdfunding to raise £38,000 to pay for the experts they have commissioned.

A WHHT and HVCCG spokeswoman said: “Due to constrained public finances we need to revise our initial strategic outline case, which was based on funding of up to £650m, and instead look at funding of closer to £350m. This is still a considerable sum of money and we are looking at various options for using this to transform hospital provision locally. However it is not enough to build a new general hospital. Our costings show that this will cost upwards of £700m.

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“We know that this is an important issue for local people and we take our duty to engage with our various communities very seriously. Everyone’s views will be considered as the boards of the WHHT and HVCCG make a decision on the preferred option in June.”

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