Health bosses have admitted for the first time that journeys to Watford Hospital can take up to 45-50 minutes – despite the ongoing cuts to services provided in Hemel.
Hospital campaigners have unearthed an internal document by West Herts Hospitals Trust, which was never made public.
And in the same document the trust admit that they nonetheless plan to increase car parking spaces for staff, whilst cutting them for patients and visitors.
Betty Harris, a member of the New Hospital Campaign and chairman of the Dacorum Hospital Action Group, said: “This just shows how little the trust care about their patients’ needs.
“It generally takes me hours to get to and from hospital by bus. Of course staff should have decent journey times but patients and visitors need the same consideration.
“Vicarage Road just isn’t the right place.”
Helen Brown, deputy chief executive of West Herts Hospitals Trust, said: “We are working with our healthcare partners to deliver services as locally as possible with people only coming to the emergency site when absolutely necessary.
“The trust is currently working with Herts Valleys CCG to develop the future shape of healthcare services to meet the needs of people in Hemel Hempstead and Dacorum. We hope to submit this case for approval in early 2018.
“We are excited about the opportunities to make much-needed investments and to develop services – including diagnostics, care for long term conditions and frailty services for older people – in Hemel to make it easier for local communities to access them.
“Patient representatives are involved in determining what this will look like.”
She added: “Together with our health and social care partners and patient representatives we are working towards delivering more services closer to local communities.
“This will change the type of clinical activity taking place at Watford General Hospital: outpatient appointments will reduce and specialist and unplanned care will increase.
“Outpatient activity is a big element of patient car parking demand so we anticipate a change in the demand for patient and visitor parking at each of our sites over time.
“Meanwhile, we will reduce the demand for staff parking by relocating some support functions and developing a green travel plan.
“I would like to reassure readers that our car parking plan is based on careful analysis and that it will be kept under review. We will continue to work closely with patient representatives on making sure our parking facilities meet the needs of patients and visitors.”
> Why do we travel to Watford?
Patients have had to travel to Watford Hospital since a range of service were closed at Hemel Hempstead in 2009, including A&E.
Watford, St Albans and Hemel hospitals are all run by the same trust. Bosses want to focus services on Watford, but over the last year the New Hospital Campaign has been opposing those plans and want a new hospital built on green belt land near Kings Langley.