Hemel Hospital: From 229 beds to zero, patients’ vent anger over “golden opportunity” being missed

Betty Harris and Mike Penning sign the hospital papers at his office on Monday morning. PNL-160321-111617009

Betty Harris and Mike Penning sign the hospital papers at his office on Monday morning. PNL-160321-111617009

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Eight-and-a-half years ago Hemel Hempstead Hospital had 229 beds.

Then came the healthcare review which saw A&E and numerous other services close, amid fury from residents.

Today there are just 36 beds at Hemel Hospital, and the new changes are expected to bring that down to zero.

Betty Harris, chairman of the Dacorum Hospital Action Group, said: “We need a new, purpose-built hospital that everyone can get to, not one stuck in a congested corner of our area. That is what surveys have repeatedly shown patients want, and that is what we’ll fight for.

“We need a genuine break with the past and a commitment to all the areas of west Herts. The chief executive of the local hospital trust is right when she says we require a common vision, but that means a vision that everyone can buy into, which this plan most definitely is not.

“As we said to the CCG a few weeks ago, this is a golden opportunity to change direction.”

Other public voices have also been quick to speak out against the health bosses’ preference to develop Watford and St Albans hospitals.

Chris White, Liberal Democrat spokesman for health at Herts County Council, said: “It looks very much as though the NHS has ended up with the answer it first thought of.

“The only site appraised at the recent presentation meeting was a difficult location and had significant planning issues. So that has been swiftly rejected in favour of a variation on the current set up.”

And a spokesman for the Labour Party in Dacorum said: “It is the job of our elected representatives to put the needs of residents first and they have clearly not been listened to.

“But it’s not the end of the road. It’s time we put our differences aside and stood up to the strategic and commissioning bodies by organising a borough-wide referendum on the various proposals.”