Campaign group takes fight over new hospital site in West Hertfordshire to court

Edie Glatter, from the New Hospital Campaign
Edie Glatter, from the New Hospital Campaign

Plans to redevelop hospital services in west Hertfordshire could be scrutinised by the courts, after a claim was served on health bosses for a judicial review.

Earlier this year the Herts Valleys CCG and the West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust (WHHT) formally backed plans to bid for £350million of NHS funding.

As part of that plan, all three hospitals – Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead – would be retained. And the bulk of the investment would be focussed on Watford General.

But that went against the preferences of a number of campaign groups, who had pushed for the CCG to bid for a new single-site, purpose-built hospital.

And now it has emerged that the Herts Valleys CCG has been served with a claim for judicial review, on behalf of the New Hospital Campaign.

Judicial review is a legal process where a person can legally challenge the lawfulness of a decision, action or failure to act of a public body, such as a clinical commissioning group.

It focuses not on the conclusion reached, but the way in which a decision has been made and the procedures followed.

The challenge to the CCG’s decisions will focus on whether or not the CCG made the decisions “without holding the required public consultation”.

Commenting on the situation, a spokesperson for Herts Valleys CCG said: “We have been served with a claim for a judicial review in relation to West Herts Hospitals Trust’s plans for hospital redevelopment – plans which the CCG approved at a board meeting in public in July.

“Herts Valleys CCG is reviewing the claim with our legal advisers and will be lodging a response with the court shortly.”

And a spokesperson for the West Herts Hospitals Trust said: “We are aware of a judicial review in relation to the plans for hospital redevelopment in west Hertfordshire.

“We are seeking legal advice and cannot comment further at this stage.”

Meanwhile there had been plans for a meeting at the council council to scrutinise the engagement during the decision-making process on Friday (September 13).

Contributions were expected from the CCG, the WHHT and other interested groups. But this meeting has now been cancelled.

Commenting on the decision to postpone the meeting, a spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “The Health Scrutiny Committee was due to meet on 13 September to look at the engagement that had taken place in relation to the development of the West Herts hospitals’ estate.

“This meeting has now been postponed as a judicial review has been served on Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group. We would expect to be able to reschedule the scrutiny meeting in December or January.”