Key services such as accident and emergency and maternity care will "undoubtedly" remain in Watford, according to hospital bosses.

Anthony Tiernan, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s director of communications, made the assurance, as the trust looks at redrawing health care across its three sites in Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

The trust is currently putting together a clinical strategy that will decide how Watford General Hospital will change as part of the health campus regeneration scheme.

The reassurance comes after Kyle McClelland, a director at the trust, suggested it was looking at "all sorts of other options" when pressed by residents about whether the area’s main hospital would remain in Watford.

Mr Tiernan said: "Watford General Hospital will undoubtedly be our main hospital site with the A&E, maternity and all the services that go with them."

At a council meeting last night Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill said she was sure there would be hospital facilities on site, but was unable to elaborate, suggesting that in the future medical care would not be provided by "a big acute hospital".

She added: "We believed under the old chief executive, chairman and board, we had an idea of where things were going. Nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out.

"If we have to go to St Albans for our day-surgery then we’ll go to St Albans. Many people have to go many miles further than we’ll ever have to go."

Mayor Thornhill also said the future of the health campus scheme was hinged on the hospital trust achieving foundation status, something the trust’s chief executive refutes.

She said: "The trust is between a rock and a hard place, it has a very difficult financial situation to resolve, a new board, a new clinical management team. Everything is up in the air.

"No government guarantees funding for a hospital whose funding is in a bad state. Without foundation status you’d don’t get the green light to go forward and borrow.

"We believed foundation status was just a blink away, it turns out that is not the case. We are disappointed."

Samantha Jones, the trust's chief executive, argued the its involvement in the health campus was not based on it being an NHS foundation trust. She added: "It would of course be helpful, as it would, for instance, allow us to borrow money from places non-foundation trusts can’t, but it’s not absolutely necessary."