Campaigners calling for a new hospital to serve West Herts are feeling ‘really pleased’ after showing their plans to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The minister gave a tentative welcome to a detailed scheme for a brand new hospital based midway between Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Watford.
These plans have been created by local campaigners, independently of NHS bosses, and could radically improve local health provision.
Betty Harris, who has been an active member of Dacorum Hospital Action Group (DHAG) since the 1970s, said: “Jeremy Hunt says that there are four tests for any reconfiguration of services.
“It should have support from health commissioners, there should be engagement with patients and the public, there should be clinical evidence, and it should support patient choice.
“I think we’re already making a strong case on all four counts.”
The DHAG and the Gazette have been campaigning for an overhaul of hospital services across the area.
The DHAG has produced a detailed scheme for a new-look set-up, with a new hospital being built which is ready for future expansion, and all three hospitals in Hemel Hempstead, St Albans and Watford being retained as satellite hospitals of the main site.
Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which oversees the area’s healthcare, is currently running a review of the future of health services locally, and the proposals for a new hospital have been added to their list of possible options.
Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning has also been supporting the campaign to improve health services, collaborating closely with the DHAG.
He said: “This is a really pleasing response from the Health Secretary.
“We’re on a journey here – this is a great step forward, yet there’s still a long way to go.
“But for the first time we have someone at a national level welcoming these proposals, not with some template ‘Thanks for your letter,’ response but having really read what’s being put forward.
“I am not here to support one scheme or another scheme. I am here to make sure that we get a positive outcome.”