A call to action from hospital campaigner

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A health campaigner wants politicians to reignite the fight for Hemel Hempstead’s hospital services after it has emerged that two more wards are set for closure.

Betty Harris, from Dacorum Hospital Action Group, has put out the call to action as the new Watford Health Campus comes one step closer.

The completion of a legal and financial agreement means work can start later this year with the development of an access road that will avoid the town centre.

But with this good news comes the discovery that Hemel Hempstead’s Churchill ward will close this week and the Simpson Ward – a stroke rehabilitation unit –will shut at a later date.

Mrs Harris said: “It is shameful that yet again Dacorum patients and their families will have to suffer from the loss of yet more services to that inaccessible site of Watford Hospital.”

The campaigner paints a picture of an overflowing A&E department, a bed shortage and patients tackling congested roads to get to Watford.

She said: “A message to Dacorum borough councillors: Are you really concerned about the health care of all Dacorum residents because if you are why are you not shouting from the rooftops that the present situation is not acceptable in this enlightened twenty first century?”

It was announced that Hemel Hempstead Hospital would be downgraded in 2006 and many services have since been centralised at Watford.

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust chief executive Samantha Jones said: “The Trust has made significant improvements to its emergency patient pathway through doing things differently with the patient at the heart of everything we do.

“Staff are fully informed and will still be working at Watford or Hemel Hempstead and engaged in the improvements we are making.

“We are committed to working closely with colleagues in health and social care to develop services closer to home.”