Watford’s elected mayor and MP have returned fire after a Labour parliamentary candidate called on them to step up efforts to secure Government funding for a new hospital.
Mayor Dorothy Thornhill said plans to regenerate Watford General Hospital hinged on its health trust attaining the "quality mark" foundation status.
She said only then would West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust be able to go to the Government for support to build "desperately needed new health facilities."
Watford’s Conservative MP Richard Harrington also defended the Government’s record regarding Watford General saying it had provided funding for a road and new facilities.
Their comments come after Labour’s parliamentary candidate Matt Turmaine said the trust’s worsening financial position meant the Government needed to intervene to help provide a new "modernised hospital".
He said the MP and mayor should be "pulling out all the stops" to see Watford furnished with a new hospital.
Responding to the criticism, mayor Thornhill, a Liberal Democrat, said: "There is no problem about government funding there is a problem with the trust managing itself and its funding.
"The Government will provide money for the hospital. But as the chief executive and trustees know they have got a lot of work to do before they can go to the Government with a clear slate and say we are ready to go.
"They need to have foundation status, which is like a quality mark. When they get it the Government will come through.
"This is typical Labour: just throw money at a problem and it will be alright. There is more that needs doing in our hospital than money can put right."
Plans to redevelop Watford General Hospital have been mooted under the health campus scheme, which will develop the land behind Vicarage Road.
Currently the scheme will see a new access road build from Dalton Way and 700 new homes. However the details of the hospital rebuild will not become clear until the health trust reveals its clinical strategy.
Last week Samantha Jones, the trust’s chief executive, said the strategy may not be finalised for up to 18 months.
Mr Harrington said the Government had demonstrated its commitment to regenerating the hospital by funding recent upgrades such as the new link road.
He said: "The Government is fully behind Watford General Hospital including financially, just last year we requested funding for a new birthing centre and received one of the largest grants in the country and the new facilities are excellent.
"This was on top of several millions of pounds being given last year for improvements to the Hospital’s infrastructure, and of course this Government has funded the Health Campus Link Road to the tune of several million pounds after years of delay and inaction under the previous Government.
"We are finally seeing things happen after years of stagnation, and I meet with the trust continuously to discuss this. I also bought the Secretary of State for Health to the hospital last year and the financial position was discussed then, he is ready and waiting for the trust to produce their plans of what they want to see and the clinical review is underway as we speak."