Sir Mike Penning, Member of Parliament for Hemel Hempstead, has joined local hospital campaigners in welcoming the announcement that West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust is one of six hospital trusts to receive government funding to create a new state-of-the-art hospital.
Sir Mike said: ‘It is great news that the Government has recognised that this part of Hertfordshire needs new hospital facilities.
‘It is obvious that this is a great opportunity to build a new state-of-the-art hospital on a new site that serves all the local communities. The trust needs to recognise this. They want to spend nearly all this money on rebuilding Watford but it will be a complete waste and an utter disaster. Everyone knows it is a mistake to try to rebuild Watford on the existing site right next door to a Premier League football club in the Victorian back streets.
‘I am working with local campaigners to make sure that the hospital trust sees sense and grabs this opportunity to build a new hospital in an accessible location with lots of free parking. This would benefit everybody in west Hertfordshire.’
Speaking for the New Hospital Campaign which has been fighting for a new hospital for many years Edie Glatter said: ‘We are pleased that the appalling condition of our hospital estates has been recognised but we must not go forward with the hopeless proposals to patch up the Watford site that the local health bosses have been promoting. We were promised a completely new hospital more than ten years ago. Now is the opportunity to fulfil that promise.
‘Too many buildings on the Vicarage Road site are beyond renovation. The 35-page analysis by our highly experienced and qualified construction advisor Robert Scott which we published last week showed that this would be a far more expensive option overall than a new A&E hospital on a clear central site. It would also be more risky, take much longer to complete and give a poorer result at the end, certainly not ‘state-of-the-art’. And a new hospital would be a lot easier to get to for most west Herts residents.
‘It might be single site or with planned care at one of the existing sites. This must be the way to go for us and for future generations. Unless it is fully and fairly considered, which has not yet happened, the decision-making process will not be credible.
‘We would urge all local MPs to publicly get on board with this approach as Sir Mike has done.’
Sir Mike Urges Government to Build Hospital on New Site
Speaking in the Commons Chamber the day after the 30 September announcement, Sir Mike said: ‘Now £400 million is welcome, but not if we are going to chuck it into Watford Hospital, which is a Victorian hospital that took all the work from Hemel Hempstead Hospital when Labour closed our acute hospital. Hemel Hempstead is the largest town in Hertfordshire. We welcome the money, but we would like a new hospital where we could look after St Albans, Hitchin and Harpenden, Watford and Hemel Hempstead in the 21st century—we do not want to plough this into a Victorian hospital.’
In reply the Minister confirmed that ‘no formal decision has been made on the detail’ and urged Sir Mike to continue to make the case for a new site to the hospital trust and to Ministers.
Speaking afterwards, Sir Mike said: ‘I spoke with the Secretary of State at the weekend and, as the Minister said in the Chamber yesterday, he has offered a meeting in which we can put our case. I will follow this up so that we can put forward the detailed case ably put together by the New Hospital Campaign which clearly demonstrates that a new site option is not only possible but by far the better option for all the people of West Hertfordshire.’