West Hertfordshire hospitals bosses agree £350m investment
Plans to invest in existing Hertfordshire hospitals rather than build a new one have been agreed by health bosses.
The West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) want to bid for £350m of healthcare improvements.
Investment is planned for services in Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead with Watford General being refurbished.
Campaigners still want a new hospital, more central to all three locations.
The WHHT, which manages Watford General, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, estimated the cost of building a new facility would be about £700m - and NHS bosses ruled out the option earlier this year.
Their "preferred way forward", revealed at a public meeting last month, has now been agreed and means all three hospitals would be retained and undergo "significant investment".
Health improvement plans
- Watford General Hospital being refurbished and getting new theatres and critical care buildings (£300m)
- St Albans City Hospital being enhanced as a surgical facility with a new cancer and surgical centre with diagnostic suite (£30m)
- Hemel Hempstead Hospital becoming a planned medical centre with a new urgent treatment centre (£20m)
The plan must now be submitted to the government for funding.
Both the trust and the CCG have acknowledged some communities would like a new hospital but said they have "chosen the option we believe is most likely to secure funding".
Trust deputy chief executive Helen Brown said: "We need to bid for £350m to make the most improvement for patients that we could and that we needed to be realistic about what funding was going to be available.
"We've been consistently told that if we ask for £700m it is very, very unlikely that we would be successful whereas if we ask for something around £350m we've got a very good chance of getting the funding.
"So given the state of our buildings and the urgent need for investment, we felt this was the right thing to do."
The Herts Valley Hospital campaign believed a centrally-located new hospital was the better option and has announced a fundraising campaign to make it a "viable better choice".
Peter Ingram, its chairman, told the trust board they recognised the "size of the funding gap" but said the group would accept the challenge and provide an alternative choice "within the next six to nine months".