New hospital campaign: Have health chiefs already signed away Hertfordshire hospitals’ future?

� Licensed to simonjacobs.com. 08.04.16 Watford, UK. Watford's elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill visits the site of the new Health Campus link road.
Photo credit : Simon Jacobs

� Licensed to simonjacobs.com. 08.04.16 Watford, UK. Watford's elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill visits the site of the new Health Campus link road. Photo credit : Simon Jacobs

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Patients fear that their hopes for a brand new hospital for West Herts may have been already signed away, because of a deal agreed with housing developers in Watford.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust has published its ‘strategic outline case’, which details why it is rejecting plans to create a new build hospital on greeenbelt land in favour of concentrating on renovating Watford Hospital.

But patients from the New Hospital Campaign believe that a deal signed several years ago between Watford Borough Council, West Herts Hospitals, and developer Kier, could have been decisive.

Ron Glatter said: “It is now being admitted, very belatedly, that the health campus is a significant factor in all this.

“For example, we’re told that ‘urgent implementation of the preferred option is required to meet Watford Health Campus timescales...’

“Given that the health campus seems to be mainly about business and housing development, and its very close connection with Watford Borough Council, it looks as though the project is being driven by commercial and local political interests rather than health concerns for the whole area of West Hertfordshire.”

As the masterplan for the health campus was agreed in 2013, Mr Glatter has questioned the validity of any consultations made over the last four years.

He added: “What agreements constraining health service locations were actually made at that time?

“Who was consulted about them? What commitments, financial or otherwise, were entered into?

“Were the details ever put into the public domain?

“It looks as though it may all have been decided long ago, possibly behind closed doors.”

Helen Brown, deputy chief executive of the hospitals trust, looked to allay concerns.

She said: “The main agreement is between Watford Borough Council and Keir. We’re a co-signatory. There could be potential for land swaps in the future, but we’ve both kept ownership of our land.

“We have an agreement that says, from a land value perspective, it’s all in one pot. But we’re not tied in, we have opportunities but no legal commitments.”

>The New Hospital Campaign will hold a public meeting this evening at The Forum in Marlowes, beginning at 7.30pm.

To sign their petition visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/169500