West Herts Hospitals cash: What we do know, and what we don’t
Health bosses received a major boost over the weekend when the government announced it was to benefit from a £2.7billion investment into six NHS trusts.
But while the news has been welcomed across the board, there are several details that questions unanswered.
Ben Raza looks at what we do know - and what we don’t.
1/How much money will West Herts Hospitals Trust get?
This is the first ‘Don’t know’. Richard Harrington, Conservative MP for Watford, has been quoted as citing a figure of £400million, but nothing has been officially confirmed with the trust yet.
That figure seems likely to be broadly accurate however, even though it would mean West Herts getting one of the smaller shares of the cash.
2/Is this new money?
Yes and No.
West Herts had been bidding for cash already, with a figure of £350million being the goal. This would be spent making major renovations at Watford Hospital.
Nobody expects the trust to get an extra £400million plus the £350million that had been bid for - but, at worst, this appears to be confirmation that West Herts will get the hoped-for money, plus perhaps a little extra.
3/What will the money go on?
Bosses at West Herts are remaining cagey at present, perhaps understandably as they have not had official confirmation of the cash being offered.
4/Is the money all for Watford Hospital?
Several reports have suggested that this is the case, including the national newspapers who information about this money was first leaked to.
That may however be a misreading of government documents, which refer to ‘Watford General’, and not to the two other hospitals runs by West Herts - St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.
Although the majority of cash is likely to be spent at Watford, some may be invested in the other two sites.
5/What does this mean for the hopes for a new hospital?
Realistically, not much. The on-going campaign for health bosses to invest in a brand new hospital on green belt land, rather than make improvements at Watford, is continuing. However this is not a large enough cash boost to change the terms of that argument.
6/When will West Herts get the money?
Another ‘Don’t know’. West Herts Hospitals Trust are asking the Ministry of Health for further details.
7/Was this all politically-motivated?
Only a cynic would say so. Although the timing, with a general election rumoured to be imminent and the Prime Minister under significant scrutiny, has been noteworthy.