It is not "absolutely certain" the main hospital for west Hertfordshire will remain in Watford, according to a senior health executive.
Kyle McClelland, Associate Director for Strategic Developments at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said its bosses were looking at "business cases" for "all sorts of other options" as part of a forthcoming reorganisation across its three sites.
At a meeting with residents in Bushey last night, Mr McClelland also said the trust was "not in a position at the moment to redevelop any hospital buildings" at Watford General Hospital.
His comments came after politicians pressed him about plans to redevelop Watford General as part of the health campus scheme.
During the meeting Hertsmere Mayor Paul Morris asked if the health trust was committed to keeping the main hospital at Watford.
Mr McClelland responded: "From where I am, yes. I don’t know whether anything else is happening. There are business cases we will need to look at and all sorts of other options that we need to look at so we can rule them out. I can’t give you an absolutely certain answer.
"No one can. We might get a billionaire who comes who tells us they are building a brand new hospital but it’s going to have to be somewhere else. I cannot give an absolute. All of our efforts are around the Watford site."
When pressed for more detail Mr McClelland added: "The other hospital sites are subject to clinical strategy which will be discussed at the trust board in February.
"I don’t know that the decision will be made then."
The hospital trust is currently drawing up a new clinical strategy, which will decide future health services across its three sites in Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.
However last week Samantha Jones, the trust’s chief executive, said it may not be finalised for up to 18 months.
Plans are currently in train for a health campus scheme to redevelop land around Watford General with 700 new homes and new health facilities.
After a slideshow at the meeting last night, Deputy Mayor of Hertsmere Carey Keates asked: "We don’t seem to be hearing an awful lot about actual hospital buildings. Have we got the cart before horses here? I thought the whole idea was to build a new hospital."
Mr McClelland responded: "The hospital trust is not in a position at the moment to redevelop any hospital buildings. We haven’t got the funds. The campus was about the facilities around the hospital.
"The hospital itself always had to redevelop on its own. We have always had to do that.
"Currently the hospital trust is not in a position to be developing our facilities. We don’t have the permission to do it. We’ve got to write the business cases and secure funding from the department of health.
"It would have been wonderful to develop the hospital first but where we’ve got to work with where we are. And the current economic reality and current NHS funding and the means of delivering new hospitals this is where we are.
"The chief exec of the trust remains absolutely committed to providing new hospital facilities but we have to make it happen first. We can’t hold off the rest of the development around the hospital, partly because the acute admissions unit is a temporary building and we only got temporary planning permission because of the road we are planning to build."