Hemel Hempstead MP, Sir Mike Penning, joined local Councillors and campaigners to attend the virtual meeting of the Herts Valleys CCG and West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust “Board Meeting in Public” today.
The joint meeting ruled out the options of a new hospital on a new green field site for the future of hospital provision in West Hertfordshire.
Speaking afterwards, Sir Mike said:
“This was an absolute farce; actually worse than a farce it was a complete pantomime. A succession of pre-determined speakers lined up to spout the official line and praise the Trust’s decision to upgrade Watford - actually a refurbishment.
“If this wasn’t so serious it would be laughable. This is about the future of hospital services for this area for the next two or three generations.
“The Trust is determined to stick with its plan to patch up Watford General Hospital and is using the possibility of a two-year delay as a reason to reject looking at a new site.
“They need to look at the bigger picture. If it costs a two-year delay, and I don’t believe it needs to, it would be worth it if we get a new centralised hospital to serve all three major urban areas.
“Both St Albans and Hemel Hempstead are earmarked for expansion with large new housing areas already proposed. To keep the hospital located in a tangle of Victorian backstreets in Watford, right next door to a major football stadium, is ridiculous.
“I do understand that people in Watford are worried about losing their hospital, but a new site would give us a 21st Century hospital for the whole local community it serves.
“The benefits of a new site that is easily accessible for all three towns, with room for level car parking and expansion far outweighs the rush to be included in the first tranche of new hospitals.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime decision. We must get this right for all the people of West Hertfordshire. Let’s not get this wrong again.”