‘It’s true: we do need to modernise – but we’re working on it,’ says Watford General boss

Samantha Jones and Ed Miliband
Samantha Jones and Ed Miliband

Chief executive of West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust Samantha Jones has accepted that her organisation needs to modernise after critical comments by Ed Miliband in a party political broadcast.

She said doctors, nurses, other staff and NHS partners are working on a clinical strategy for the future of the Trust’s sites in Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans. This will include exploring where investment is needed in the longer-term.

She said: “We would be the first to acknowledge that our hospitals’ infrastructure is in need of modernisation.”

She said in the last year Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt and Lib Dem care and support minister Norman Lamb are among the politicians to have visited the Trust.

When Ed Miliband visited, he shot a party political broadcast while shadowing two eight-hour shifts at Watford General Hospital

Ms Jones said: “As an NHS organisation we welcome politicians visiting our hospitals so that they can better understand the work that we do and get to meet, and hear from, our patients and frontline staff.”

Mr Miliband met staff and patients in Watford General’s A&E, dementia unit and children’s ward.

Ms Jones said: “The visit provided a good opportunity for our staff to discuss not only the challenges they face, but also our successes, our opportunities, and above all to talk about the pride they take in providing the best possible care to our patients.”

She said £16.2m is now being pumped into upgrading the Trust’s wards and improving the outside of hospital buildings.

She said: “A significant amount of money is also being spent on ensuring our hospitals are meeting the latest safety standards, with hundreds of thousands of pounds being spent on a new ventilation system, as well as the replacement of old water pipes and old windows.

“We have also opened many new facilities including an ambulatory care unit at Watford Hospital, which is helping to speed up the time it takes for patients to get treated in an emergency.”