Watford Hospital: Trust chooses site for new facilities

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Watford General HospitalImage source, Google Maps
Image caption,
A large new clinical block is planned for Watford General Hospital

Health bosses have recommended new hospital facilities be built on land near an existing hospital rather than on a new site.

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust wants to build new emergency facilities on land near Watford General Hospital.

Improvements, including new buildings, are planned for Hemel Hempstead and St Albans City hospitals.

The New Hospital Campaign, which favoured a new site, said the decision was "rushed and flawed".

The government had set a deadline of 2025 for work to be completed, which led to building on a new site being ruled out.

The trust had originally agreed to invest in its existing hospitals in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Watford.

It wanted to bid for £350m of government funding to improve existing services and refurbish Watford General Hospital.

The estimated cost of building a new facility central to all three locations was about £700m so had been ruled out, but NHS bosses re-examined it after being told they could investigate options worth a further £190m.

The trust announced in June it was looking at replacing rather than refurbishing existing buildings but later said a feasibility study had shown it would take too long to get a new site up and running.

The trust and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group agreed on Thursday that their preferred option was to build new emergency facilities on a seven-hectare (73,000 sq m) site with investment at the two smaller hospitals, at a total cost of about £590m.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
St Albans City Hospital is set to receive investment

What the plans include:

  • Watford: a large new clinical block to replace nearly all the clinical facilities on the site at present - excluding the current acute admissions unit
  • The redeveloped hospital will sit within a major regeneration project - Watford Riverwell - which will be landscaped and will offer green spaces and shops
  • Hemel Hempstead: a new purpose-built urgent treatment and diagnostics centre
  • St Albans: theatres to be overhauled, and a rapid access cancer diagnostic centre and MRI and CT scanners to be provided

The plans will be subject to review by the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS regulators and the Treasury.

Trust chief executive Christine Allen said the decision was "a big step forward on our journey to better buildings and facilities" and the "milestone" was a "positive development for all our patients".

Campaigners want a brand-new hospital, built centrally to all three locations and replacing existing hospitals.

The New Hospital Campaign said the decision had been based on flawed, shaky and often misleading evidence.

"There is no way a decision based on such misleading, doctored and inadequate information can go unchallenged. And it won't," said Jean Richie, of the campaign.

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