Health campaigners’ withering verdict on hospital plans for West Herts

editorial image

“Unproven,” “lacking credibility,” and “the subject of major doubt”.

That is the verdict of health campaigners on NHS bosses and the plans to rebuild Watford Hospital rather than construct a new hospital on greenbelt land.

Two weeks ago the Gazette reported that members of the New Hospital Campaign were “reluctantly” taking legal action against local health chiefs, with the goal of securing a judicial review.

And now they have issued a 35-page report on the proposals, written by Robert Scott who worked for many years experience at a senior level in major construction companies.

He said: “You don’t have to study the plans for too long to see that the Clear Site New Build options provide better value for money than the partial redevelopment proposals, and it is clear that costs will significantly exceed the stated £350million expenditure cap.

“If a partial redevelopment will result in poor value for money - and in much greater expenditure for inferior facilities within a relatively short space of time - why have you cased to investigate the Clear Site New Build alternatives?”

Campaigners also directed comments specifically to hospital staff, saying: “The proposed redevelopment works at Watford would involve demolition of buildings that are known to contain deleterious material and heavy construction work extremely close to the Princess Michael of Kent Block that mainly relies on natural ventilation with failing windows and generally poor environmental control.

“Whilst demolition and building works can be cocooned, this can never completely prevent the escape of contamination and certainly it would not be possible to eliminate noise and vibration.

“Have you been satisfied that the trust’s plans will not place vulnerable patients at additional risk during the redevelopment works?”

Mr Scott’s report concludes that the feasibility of the plans are “unproven and the subject of major doubt”.

It adds: “There is no credible basis to have excluded the Clear Site New Build options and no case for continuing to pursue the proposed redevelopment of the Watford estate.”

In a joint statement, West Herts Hospitals and Herts Valleys CCG said: “Having had a number of discussions with the New Hospital Campaign we have been aware for some time that they have a different view of what a new hospital would cost.

“The strategic outline case includes detailed costings for all options, including a new build hospital on a clear site, which have been developed using strict HM Treasury guidelines. Both the trust and the clinical commissioning group have received a copy of Robert Scott’s report and we will be responding directly to him and Ron Glatter in due course.”

The New Hospital Campaign are now fundraising for their legal challenge by judicial review over health bosses’ failure to carry out the required public consultation before excluding the new hospital options, and also before choosing their preferred option.

There is a target of £20,000 to fund the legal action, whether via https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/new-hospital-campaign or direct to the bank account DHAG-New Hospital Campaign, Lloyds Bank, Sort Code 30-80-49 Account Number 34945668.