Beds, Herts & Bucks

West Hertfordshire hospital campaigners call public meeting a 'sham'

Watford General Hospital Image copyright Google Maps
Image caption NHS bosses said they have to be "realistic about what we ask for" from government

Campaigners are angry at plans to invest in existing Hertfordshire hospitals rather than build a new one.

NHS bosses revealed their "preferred way forward" at a public consultation meeting on Thursday, but were accused of already making a decision.

Bosses favour investing in services in Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.

Mike Penning MP called the meeting a "sham", but an NHS representative said they were explaining "the process... [and] the decisions we need to make".

The West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) want to spend £350m on healthcare improvements, including:

  • Watford General Hospital would be refurbished and get new theatres and critical care buildings
  • St Albans City Hospital would be enhanced as a surgical facility with a new cancer and surgical centre with diagnostic suite
  • Hemel Hempstead Hospital would become a planned medical centre and have a new urgent treatment centre

Campaigners want a new hospital that would be more central to St Albans, Watford and Hemel.

Mr Penning, Conservative MP for Hemel, said: "They'd made their mind up before they arrived, they've not really listened to the community and actually what we need is a new, purpose-built acute hospital.

"I think we can raise that money, but it's a sham and that really disgusts me."

'Realistic'

The West Herts 21st Century Hospital campaign group said it has architects working on plans after raising £20,000 through crowdfunding.

Jean Ritchie, from the group, said: "We could, for the same money, or very little more, build a hospital that we could all get to and that would so improve patient care."

WHHT deputy chief executive, Helen Brown, said the meeting was not a formal consultation and the decision would be made in July.

"We were telling people about the process we were going through, the decisions we need to make, the constraints we are working within and getting their views," she said.

"We have been listening to people, it's not that we don't hear what people are saying but we also have to listen to the people who make the decisions about how much money we might get and we have to be realistic about what we ask for."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites