Hemel Hempstead MP, Sir Mike Penning, led a debate in Parliament yesterday on the local hospital trust and clinical commissioning group.
Sir Mike applied for the debate after being contacted by local residents who feel their views are still being ignored by local health managers.
Sir Mike said:
“The community is united in having no confidence in the management of the clinical commissioning group or the West Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust.
“We all know that it is pure common sense to take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of land becoming available between Leverstock Green and the M1 to build a new hospital on a level greenfield site. It could have room for expansion and plenty of room for parking. It would be easily accessible to all three local towns, Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Watford, as well as provide an emergency back up for any incident on the M1, M25, local airports and north west London.
“The new-build option is supported by all groups of the community, all political parties and hospital campaigners – most notably the New Hospital Campaign ably led by Betty Harris and Ron and Edie Glatter.
“However, the trust are refusing to include the new build option in their Strategic Outline Case (SOC) as they say the cost is prohibitive at £750 million and they could only borrow £350 million. My questions to the Minister were essentially these:
“We know from public figures that new hospitals in other parts of the country are costing much less than that, sometimes, as in Birmingham, when they are far larger. So why is a new hospital in West Herts – serving a smaller population –so much more? It is Crown Estate land after all… Where is the £750 million figure coming from? It is a fiction – used purely to block a new build acute hospital.
“My second question is that if a trust can only borrow an amount based on its annual turnover, doesn’t this discriminate against smaller trusts like West Herts? If we can’t ever secure enough funding for a new hospital, does that mean we will be reduced to patching up ancient buidlings forever?”
Professor Ron Glatter of the New Hospital Campaign. who sat in the public gallery for the debate, said:
“I thought the Minister of State Stephen Hammond, who responded, was really listening to Sir Mike’s powerful arguments. He agreed to meet him to discuss the cost of a new hospital and I hope he will also take note of the major concerns we have about the current decision-making process.”