Hertfordshire County Council leader urged to write to Prime Minister calling for funding for Watford Hospital redevelopment
Calls were put to a meeting of the full county council for leader Cllr Richard Roberts to write to the Boris Johnson
Labour cllr Asif Khan has spearheaded calls for Hertfordshire County Council to show support for the redevelopment of Watford General Hospital.
It was two years ago – in October 2019 – that Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged £400m for the Watford redevelopment.
But despite the PM’s pledge, no firm funding decision has yet been made.
Bosses from the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust have drawn-up plans for the site, off Vicarage Road – including three landmark blocks of up to 18-storeys.
But they are among dozens of hospitals nationwide hoping to be funded as part of the government’s New Hospital Programme (NHP).
On Tuesday, December 14, calls were put to a meeting of the full county council for leader Cllr Richard Roberts to write to the PM, to call for the full funding for the redevelopment ‘as a matter of urgency’.
The motion – originally submitted by Cllr Asif Khan – was not debated at the meeting, where the agenda was shortened as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19.
And instead it was passed to a future meeting of the councils overview and scrutiny committee for consideration.
According to the motion – which was formally proposed to the full council by Cllr Sharon Taylor – funding for the redevelopment has “stalled”.
The motion highlighted the benefits of the redevelopment to areas across west Hertfordshire, including St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.
And it says: “The Trust’s plan are the best and fastest way to deliver the much needed hospital and health facilities in west Hertfordshire.
“Residents have waited decades for this hospital to be redeveloped and this needs to be done as a matter or urgency.”
Finally it calls, “on the leader of the County Council to write to the Prime Minister showing this Council’s full support for the hospital redevelopment and request its full funding as a matter of urgency so that residents in South West Hertfordshire have outstanding health care facilities.”
Following the meeting leader of the county council Cllr Richard Roberts told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it was “incredibly frustrating” that Watford General Hospital had not yet been rebuilt.
He said the county council was already involved in ‘conversations’ with health bodies – including the West Herts Hospitals Trust and the Integrated Care System – looking at how to get the Watford regeneration ‘back on track’.
But he said he would not be writing to the Prime Minister – who he noted had commented on Watford General just a couple of weeks ago.
“I think we need a stronger health offer in south west Hertfordshire for our 600k residents in south west Hertfordshire,” said Cllr Roberts.
“And it’s absolutely vital that Watford Hospital is regenerated or rebuilt.
“I don’t mind – as chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board and leader of the county council – where the hospital is built or rebuilt. What I do care about it is that it does get built.”
With Mount Vernon also seeking to develop a new site in Watford, Cllr Roberts also highlighted the need to address the provision of specialist cancer services, as well as the proposals for Princess Alexandra Hospital, in Harlow.
“It is incredibly frustrating that we have not rebuilt Watford Hospital – either in Watford or anywhere else for that matter – and that there has been ample opportunity to do so,” he said.
“And I know local health systems share these frustrations – especially West Herts Hospitals Trust.”