Hemel Hempstead MP urges people to have their say on plans to redesign services at west Hertfordshire's hospitals

The Your Care, Your Views public engagement programme was launched by the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust to gather feedback on the redesign of its services

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 2:25 pm

Hemel Hempstead MP is urging residents in the town to have their say on the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust's (WHHT) Your Care, Your View public engagement programme.

Sir Mike Penning is also supporting the New Hospital Campaign which has raised concerns over the funding allocated to each hospital for redevelopments.

A spokesman for New Hospital Campaign said: "In their latest 'Your Care, Your Views' sales pitch and survey, the Trust wants you to think that all three hospitals are going to get a great makeover!

Sir Mike Penning

"They aren't. The planned funding split is roughly 92% for Watford General and just 8% to be divided between St Albans and Hemel hospitals."

The WHHT says the costs are still being worked through so a percentage split is not yet possible, but it did confirm that Watford General Hospital will receive the largest share of funding - as it cares for the highest number of very unwell patients and its buildings are in the worst condition overall.

Sir Mike Penning is calling on local people to beware of the tactics of the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust in their latest ‘public engagement' campaign.

He said: “I am fully behind the New Hospital Campaign on this.

Hemel Hempstead Hospital (C) Google Maps

"The Trust is pushing the hard sell, trying to make us believe they are investing in all three local hospitals.

"They are not, 92 per cent of funding will go to a renovation of Watford with just eight per cent split between Hemel and St Albans.

“In Hemel we will lose pretty much everything we’ve got. As far as I can see we’ll be left with not much more than an outpatient dispensary.

“It would be far, far better to spend the money on a single new hospital, easily accessible to all three towns and the districts beyond.

"Rebuilding Watford, whilst keeping it operational, will be a nightmare. I feel sorry for the patients, staff and visitors whilst all that is going on.”

Dr Mike van der Watt, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust’s chief medical officer, said: “We are disappointed that the local MP is painting such a negative picture of plans which we believe will put Hemel Hempstead Hospital on the map as a centre of excellence.

“Our vision is to create a ‘multi-specialty’ hospital which will provide planned medical care and care for patients with long term conditions.

"It’s hard to understand how providing new and upgraded diagnostic equipment and increasing the number of services based at Hemel Hempstead Hospital can be seen as a loss.

“With an ageing population and around 30 per cent of people having a long term condition, our improvements at Hemel Hempstead Hospital will have a huge positive impact on patients in west Herts who can be seen in a calm setting away from our busy emergency site.

“Reorganising our services and investing in Hemel Hempstead Hospital will result in more ‘one stop’ appointments where many different stages of diagnosis and treatment are combined in a single appointment.

"The hospital will be home to a wide range of specialised imaging services, a dedicated frailty assessment and treatment centre and a new hub for specialist diabetes and endocrinology. This is good news for patients.

“The focus at Hemel Hempstead Hospital is on outpatient care that leads to the best quality of life for our patients, whether they are recovering from an illness or living with a long term condition.

"We have taken inspiration from successful healthcare models in the UK and abroad which prove beyond doubt that great hospital care is about so much more than buildings and beds.

"We will also continue to provide an urgent care service, blood tests and a range of local outpatient services such as antenatal care.

“I would like to thank our clinicians for their dedication, expertise and enthusiasm in developing proposals which set out a brighter future for our patients.

"These are exciting times and I urge local people to get involved, either by attending an online meeting, reading our engagement documents or by completing our survey to share their response to our ideas.”

Addressing the split of funding across the three hospitals, a Trust spokesperson said: “Our costs are still being worked through and we do not yet have an agreed amount of investment, so it is not possible to provide a percentage split of the spend across our three hospitals.

“However, it is true that Watford General Hospital will receive the largest share of the available funding.

"It is the hospital in west Herts that cares for the highest number of very unwell patients and those who need complex care and its buildings are in the worst condition overall.

"Our new and much-needed emergency department, new women’s and children’s building and inpatient accommodation will require considerable investment but they will significantly improve the care we can offer.

“The site at Watford will be transformed by creating a major new building on land next to the current hospital. We look forward to being able to share more detail, including plans and drawings later this month.”

The proposals set out in Your Care, Your Views are based on each of the three hospitals having a unique purpose within a three-site network.

Watford General Hospital will continue to be west Hertfordshire’s emergency care hospital and the site for complex surgery and specialist care. There will be a new and expanded emergency department as well as new ward accommodation with more beds and a much higher ratio of single rooms.

St Albans, which already provides the bulk of the trust’s planned surgery, will expand the range of operations it offers and will also be the site for the endoscopy unit which will transfer from Hemel Hempstead Hospital so that it is on the same site with other cancer and surgical services.

Hemel Hempstead Hospital will be a ‘multi-specialty’ site for planned medical care and for patients with long term conditions. The range of conditions that are based at the site will increase.

Urgent care services and some outpatient services will be provided from all three hospitals and there will be a significant upgrade to diagnostic facilities at each site too.

The trust is currently in the ‘outline business case’ stage and is working through costs and information on the needs of the population, taking into account housing plans.

A period of public engagement has been launched and ends on March 24.

Information on the proposals can be found on the trust’s website.