New Hospital Campaign calls for single room provision in West Herts

PUBLISHED: 08:27 25 June 2020

Watford General Hospital. Picture: Danny Loo.

Watford General Hospital. Picture: Danny Loo.

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A campaign group – which is lobbying for an entirely new hospital building to replace Watford General Hospital – has said it is key to helping to prevent further virus outbreaks.

One New Hospital Campaign member, Jean Ritchie, has looked into research regarding how the provision of single rooms promotes effective infection control.

She said: “A study of the impact on infections of the move from an old hospital to a new building, with a high proportion of single rooms, published in 2017, showed that the number of bed days lost to norovirus was “significantly lower.

“Increased availability of single rooms had an impact on the transmission of highly contagious norovirus infection, which is dispersed via the airborne route.”

With the high number of deaths in hospitals from COVID-19, NHC says we must prepare for likely further virus outbreaks and put a high priority on effective infection control.

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A NHC spokesman said: “We can only have enough single rooms in a newly built hospital on a clear site, not an old one where only around half of the estate is to be renovated as the West Herts Hospitals Trust (WHHT) has proposed. So far the WHHT have made no provision at all in their redevelopment plans for more single rooms. Building anew will save lives.

“This is one of the reasons why members of the NHC have congratulated the Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust (PAHT) in Harlow, Essex, just 30 miles away and in the same planning area as West Herts, on reportedly being given a conditional offer of £600 million to build a brand new hospital on a clear site, which is their preferred way forward.

“WHHT’s plan so far has not been to build a new hospital at all, only to redevelop parts of the decaying and inaccessible Watford General Hospital.”

The new hospital building programme was launched in 2019 and announced West Herts Hospitals Trust as one of six trusts to receive funding to “build new hospitals, modernise our primary care estate, invest in new diagnostics and technology and help eradicate critical safety issues in the NHS estate”.

WHHC is currently working on its Outline Business Case, which will set out in detail its plans for the buildings and services. The trust also recently called for members of the public to sign up to its new stakeholder group which will form part of the public engagement.

A spokeswoman for the trust told the Herts Ad: “We have always planned to increase single occupancy rooms and our next and more detailed proposal – the outline business case – will show a significantly higher proportion of single rooms than we have at present. We are continuing to have discussions with the regulators about the amount of available funding.”


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