‘Hospital can’t cope with all three towns’

11/3/10'One year on. Urgent care at Hemel Hempstead Hospital.
11/3/10'One year on. Urgent care at Hemel Hempstead Hospital.

WATFORD Hospital just can’t cope with looking after the three major towns in west Herts, says Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning.

He believes the hospital is struggling look after Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead – but he accepts that if a new hospital is built in the future, central Hemel Hempstead would not be the right place for it.

He said: “We have to win the argument that Watford can’t look after Watford, Hemel and St Albans. It can’t cope and I will not shut up about it.”

“We have to accept that any money that could be used for a new hospital has been spent.

“But we do need to win the argument so that if money becomes available down the line it’s not thrown into the Watford site.”

But Mr Penning does not feel that central Hemel Hempstead would be a suitable location if a new hospital were to be built.

“Would you choose to put a hospital in the middle of Watford for all three communities? Of course you wouldn’t,” he said. “Similarly, a site near Breakspear or Langleybury would be better placed to facilitate everyone, with easy access to both the M25 and M1.”

A majority of services at Hemel Hempstead Hospital have been shut over time. The A&E department closed in 2009, leaving an urgent care centre in its place.

A spokesman for West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust said: “Two years after the centralisation of emergency care at Watford and elective care at St Albans, the Trust still believes this was the right thing to do, in terms of the safety, quality and patient experience.

“There will always be pressures on acute services and, in particular, emergency services, and the Trust is committed to taking action to resolve these, if and when they arise.”

> Would you be happy to see a new hospital on a greenfield site? Let us know – email your views to hemelhx@jpress.co.uk