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Chancellor, George Osborne, tight-lipped over Watford General Hospital rebuild funds
The Chancellor of the Exchequer remained tight-lipped about what cash is available for the rebuild of Watford General Hospital when he visited the town today.
George Osborne said detailed discussions had not yet started between the Treasury and West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust over funding for plans to redevelop the Watford General’s dilapidated infrastructure.
While visiting the newly-opened Morrison’s supermarket in West Watford he said that “specific discussions” needed to be had with the chief executive about what the future holds for the Vicarage Road hospital.
Asked what money was available for the redevelopment, Mr Osborne replied: “We need to get to the specific discussions with the new chief executive about what she needs and also what needs to be done at the hospital to make sure that its finances are in order.”
He added: “Those conversations are happening all over but we are here to make sure that the hospital has a great future.”
The Chancellor’s comments come as the trust is drawing up a new clinical strategy, which will outline its plans to redevelop Watford General.
Earlier this year the trust’s chief executive, Samantha Jones, described parts of the hospital’s infrastructure as “unfit for purpose” and last year it started housing patients in temporary cabins.
The hospital trust is currently trying to obtain foundation status, which would give it financial independence needed for any large scale redevelopment.
Yet the trust delayed its application for foundation status last year as its latest reports show its financial situation is not improving.
Mr Osborne said he hopes the hospital will sort out some of the problems that have “built up” over the years.
He said: “(What) we can do is make sure that, as Watford sorts out some of the problems that built up in the last decade, they can go forward.
“Hopefully they will be able to get foundation status then they will be able to get the resource that they need for new facilities.”
Mr Osborne added: “The good news is that, because we’re fixing the public finances in this country, we’re able to prioritise the things that really matter to local people, like the health service, and there is additional resource going into the health service to make sure, not only it covers the day-to-day cost but that we can build new buildings.”
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