Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning calls on Government to support a brand new hospital for West Herts

Watford Hospital location is 'completely unsuitable' says the MP for Hemel Hempstead as he tables a Parliamentary motion

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 11:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 5:42 pm
Sir Mike Penning MP

A Parliamentary motion calling for a new hospital for West Hertfordshire has been tabled by Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning.

He is calling for a new acute hospital to be built, saying that Watford General Hospital is in a “completely unsuitable” location for the people of Hemel Hempstead, and that upgrading or rebuilding the hospital on its current site will be “nigh on impossible”

But West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust says the plans will bring significant improvements for patients.

The Parliamentary motion states that the acute hospital in Watford has been developed in an ad hoc manner and that “the deterioration of its facilities has made it harder for the excellent doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff to carry out their work”.

It calls on the Government to “halt the taxpayer-funded redevelopment of the Watford site and welcome the news that £590 million is available for a new acute hospital on a greenfield site that can serve all of the growing population of West Hertfordshire”.

Sir Mike said: “It is obvious that trying to upgrade or even rebuild the hospital on the existing site will be nigh on impossible whilst keeping it fully operational. It is also a completely

unsuitable location to fairly serve the people of Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

“So I will continue to use every opportunity to put pressure on the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust to see common sense.

“By building on a new site, the Trust could equally serve the people of Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans with easy access, plenty of space for expansion and offer free (and level) car parking for staff, patients and visitors alike.

“I understand Watford residents may be worried they will lose their hospital, but there is no reason why they cannot keep some non-acute services on the Vicarage Road site.”

Deputy Chief Executive Helen Brown said: “Our plans for our hospitals in Hemel Hempstead, Watford and St Albans will bring significant improvements for patients in west Hertfordshire.

“We are particularly excited about the proposals at Watford which will completely transform the Watford General Hospital site and provide a far better experience for all the communities we serve than we can at present.

“The new hospital will be constructed on land next to the current hospital which means that care can continue to be delivered whilst the work gets underway.”

And she said that detailed plans were being developed to allow disruption to be kept to a minimum.

She added: “The integration of the latest digital technology, a landscaped site with green spaces and retail, a new multi-storey car park and a vast increase in the number of single rooms will dramatically improve the experience of anyone visiting, being treated or working at Watford General.

“We know that there are some who still favour a new hospital on a different site but we would urge people to see the amazing opportunities we have, now that we are in line for significant investment as part of the New Hospital Programme.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to transform our hospitals and deliver enormous benefits for our patients and staff and we must seize it.”

The Trust says it is committed to maintaining each of its three sites and this is the model upon which funding is based.

Under the new plans, Watford will be the base for emergency and specialist services, including complex surgery, whilst St Albans will focus on planned surgery and cancer and Hemel Hempstead will be established as a centre for consultant-led planned medical care.

All sites will have upgraded diagnostics and provide urgent care.

New Hospital Campaign spokesman Ron Glatter said: “Sir Mike is absolutely right. The latest plans for rebuilding Watford hospital, based on three high-rise blocks going up to 18 storeys in an area half the size of the present site is absolutely crazy.

“Also, the Trust’s latest polling of local residents shows how vital it is to be able to reach the hospital easily, especially for frequent visitors and those with disabilities.

“The present site is in completely the wrong place and if it goes ahead we’ll be stuck with it till nearly the end of the century, as it’s a plan for 60 years. It would be a shocking misuse of resources.

“We need a new hospital on a clear site that we can all get to.”

You can find out more about the hospital plans at www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk/about/redevelopment