Campaign group welcomes funding opportunity for West Herts hospital refurbishment project

A hospital campaign group has welcomed the news that West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust will be able to bid for additional funding for its hospital refurbishment project.

Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 1:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th July 2020, 1:06 pm

Herts Valleys Hospitals, one of a number of campaign groups fighting for a new hospital to be built on a new site that is accessible to Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans, have welcomed the funding news, providing it allows a real-deal for west Herts patients.

Last week, the trust received news that it could be entitled to another £190 million - which was welcomed by Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning.But, trust deputy chief executive Helen Brown revealed £590 million would allow the trust to replace hospital buildings in Watford, suggesting keeping the main hospital in the town is still the preferred way forward.

Steve Day, from the campaign group, said: "It is open to the Trust to do what they want to do now, but the money is available.

Visualisation of new hospital proposed by Herts Valleys Hospital

"They have money now and they have options, do they want to build a new hospital in a new location or do they want to rebuild on an existing site at Watford Hospital.

"The Trust now has options and the funding to move forward with what they decide is the best way.

"The people of Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans now have a fully credible, one-time opportunity to build a shared new hospital without the upheaval of jumping from foot-to-foot to construct piecemeal on the Vicarage Road site.

"We say it is possibly true that a simple application of the additional funds would enable Watford to be completely rebuilt on the same site but this would be a failure of imagination and vision.

"Happily there is fresh thinking breaking out. We say this new funding could be combined with other identified sources of funding – up to a further £398m - and a deliverable site.

“This boost, combined with a deliverable clear site, with transport integration opportunities and Green protection, delivers – more quickly and with less upheaval - the best available hospital

outcome for all of West Herts population growth-centres.”

Herts Valleys Hospitals has provided a breakdown of where they believe an extra £398million could come from:

- Land value receipts (£62m-£95m) - this would be bits of existing land at Watford General, St Albans City, and Hemel Hempstead Hospitals that the hospital trust could sell off for redevelopment.

- Homes England land resale (£9.5m-£13m) - immediate funding from government organisation Homes England to buy up hospital land that could be turned into housing.

- Section 106 agreements (£30m-65m) - payments a developed would be liable to pay if it was to to build on existing hospital sites.

- Major corporate and personal donations (£75m)

- Fundraising (£25m) - employing someone professionally to lead a fundraising campaign

- Public private partnerships (£60m) – the idea of having privately owned facilities at a new hospital which would provide income for the trust.

- Upgraded hospital and social care (£70m) - bringing specialist services to the hospital for example children's services, a cancer centre or a helipad.

A spokesperson for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We are aware that the mention of potential larger investment is of interest to those who want to see an all new hospital on a new site.

"This option will be part of our long list and will be subject to the same rigorous process as the other possibilities we will be looking at.

"That will include exploring land values and other opportunities that could increase the amount of available funding.

"The Department of Health and Social Care have been clear that we should not consider any options that significantly increase the timescales for delivery of the scheme beyond 2025.

"This is a challenging timeline but given the very poor condition of some of our buildings, it is essential that improvements are delivered in the fastest possible time.

“It is worth noting that we have not been given additional funding – we have been told that we can increase the amount we can bid for but we do have to prove value for money and that our preferred option can be delivered within a timescale that has been set.”

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