In a letter to Liberal Democrat MP for St Albans Daisy Cooper, the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Lord Markham has admitted to delays and uncertainty around the redevelopment of Watford General Hospital, St Albans Hospital and Hemel Hempstead Hospital.
In a letter addressed to St Albans Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper, a government minister acknowledged that the plans for Watford General were a “long time in development” and that there were “uncertainties over construction start timetables.” The letter could only commit to building being completed by 2030.
Commenting on the news, Liberal Democrat Daisy Cooper MP said:
“I’ve seen first-hand the extraordinary work of our local hospital staff but this work is happening in buildings that are quite frankly so old they are now in danger of posing a risk to patients.
“This is perhaps a once in a lifetime opportunity to build the hospitals that we desperately need here in West Herts, and I'll continue to press the government to release the funds to transform our local hospitals until there are shovels in the ground."
The hospital improvements are part of a plan submitted to the government’s hospital building programme by South West Hertfordshire NHS Trust. To enable these plans to commence, Watford Borough Council has made land available by building a multi-story car park to free up the necessary space.
Despite this it has been previously reported that the government are attempting to save costs by standardising designs across the country, sparking fears that the new hospitals will fail to meet specific local needs.
Recently, Mayor Peter Taylor, in a joint letter with the Liberal Democrat leaders of St Albans and Three Rivers councils, wrote to the government calling on them to move quickly to start the improvement works and commit to the plans put forward by the NHS Trust.
Lib Dem Mayor Peter Taylor said,
“The Conservatives need to act now to fund the improvements to Watford General Hospital and come clean about the timescale so the local NHS can prepare properly. We have made land available and the local NHS trust has a plan that is ready to go.
“I hope the government listens, so we can finally deliver these much needed new facilities as soon as possible.”
You can read the full ministerial letter here