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Ed Miliband's Watford General Hospital video provokes regeneration row
Watford’s Conservative MP has reacted to a Labour political broadcast that accused the Coalition Government of "getting rid" of a plan to modernise Watford General Hospital.
Richard Harrington said the Government had invested money into improving parts of the hospital such as the maternity ward over the last four years.
He said that ministers were also waiting for the hospital to finish drawing up its proposals to rebuild the hospital before allocating cash for the long-awaited project.
Mr Harrington’s comments come after Labour aired a broadcast last week of the party leader, Ed Miliband’s, visit to the Vicarage Road hospital.
In the short film Mr Miliband said: "This hospital has really desperately needed modernisation. There was a plan under the last Labour government. It was got rid of by this government to modernise the hospital."
Responding to the video, Mr Harrington said: "It has been made very clear that the trust is currently in the process of putting together a clinical review to decide how they want hospital services to be delivered in the future, with input from doctors, nurses and other clinical staff.
"When this is done and there is a clear plan, the money will be requested for this to be put into action. The Secretary of State himself has stated that this is the case and that he is ready and waiting for it."
There have been plans to redevelop Watford General for over a decade under the health campus scheme. The last Labour government proposed building a new 600-bed hospital with 500 homes under a private finance initiative.
However that scheme was abandoned during the recession and the coalition Government has since ditched PFIs as a method of renewing hospitals.
In the meantime Watford Borough Council is now moving ahead with a new health campus scheme, which will see up to 750 homes built on the land behind the hospital.
Under this new scheme plans for the hospital are far less clear than before. Bosses at the trust in charge of Watford General say they won’t know what they want to do until they complete their clinical strategy - scheduled to be finished in mid 2015.
The Government has said it will not know how much money is available for the new hospital until the trust completes its strategy. The current health campus masterplan has left space for potential hospital developments.
Yet the new plan is facing a challenge in the High Court from allotment-holders as it involves building over the 118-year-old Farm Terrace Allotments.
Mr Harrington added: "Talk of past promises which weren’t delivered are one thing, I am more focused on delivery and action. The new birthing centre that has been mentioned, that was paid for by this Government with one of the largest grants in the country and is now open, the current multi million pound upgrade to the Hospital building has been paid for by this Government and will be finished next year with upgrades to the lifts, windows, operating theatres and more at Watford.
"Investment has happened under this Government, it is continuing to happen as we speak, and we are looking toward the long term with a clinical review being written to ensure that the delivery of healthcare in the future is the best it can be."
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