I was so disappointed to read your editorial comment asking the question whether this is the time for new hospital campaigners to throw in the towel and back the Trust!

This is the Trust which last summer submitted a Strategic Outline Case to NHS Improvement for the redevelopment of Watford General Hospital (WGH) and St Albans City Hospital (SACH) for between £600-£800 million and had it rejected. All of a sudden £350 million ploughed into WGH, SACH and Hemel Hempstead Hospital (HH) is going to radically modernise WHHT’s hospital estate and increase capacity to handle another 150,000 joining the population over the next 15 years! No mention has been made how WHHT will cope with such growth. (Extra ambulance parking and a longer A&E corridor is not the answer if this is what the Trust is considering.)

WHHT and HVCCG have said a new A&E hospital is not affordable as it would cost between £694-£750 million - where is their experts’ specifications and assumptions used to cost these new options? £700 million would make this the most expensive new hospital built in the UK so why shouldn’t new hospital campaigners contest these figures when a new state of the art A&E hospital would guarantee future West Herts generations the hospital buildings and facilities we should all want for them.

There are numerous examples of new UK hospitals costing around £350 million or less but our Trust suggests that double this amount is needed to build West Herts new acute services hospital - really!

A total of £350 million spent on the current dilapidated West Herts hospitals is like sticking a 3 inch plaster on a 9 inch wound!

Having seen the options that the Trust is considering for shortlisting, it is clear that many parts of the hospital estate will still be left in a poor state. A new women’s and children’s hospital building, partial refurbishment of the Princess Michael of Kent, new and/or refurbished operating theatres and a new ambulatory assessment unit demonstrates why campaigners will definitely not consider throwing in the towel. How the “heck” is this redevelopment work going to be undertaken whilst the hospital remains operational? The Trust has failed to respond to this very important question.

The Trust has also failed to provide cost estimates for the redevelopment options - how do they know these redevelopment options are affordable? After the Trust gets approval for the partial redevelopment of the hospital estate, when will it need to go back to the NHS regulators to ask for further money to replace other parts of their hospital estate that are either failing or nearing end of life and how much extra will this cost? Yes - hundreds of millions of pounds!

The Vicarage Road estate is a bottomless pit of expenditure and the other two West Herts hospital sites are the same. The six facet survey, commissioned for WHHT, highlights the many major issues that need attention.

Unlike the Mayor of Watford, new hospital campaigners have no interest in the Riverwell estate and feel that it is not in West Herts residents’ interests to be considering the hospital redevelopment as part of this regeneration development. Flats being built all around a hospital, that is itself subject to major redevelopment, is a disastrous scenario for patients and hospital staff’s wellbeing (pollution, noise and vibration is not an environment that patients should be subjected to over many years).

Campaigners are far from throwing in the towel and are confident that after further scrutiny of WHHT’s decision-making processes at ministerial level, it will come to light how unnecessarily expensive and flawed their redevelopment plans are.

The £350 million of taxpayers money should give value for money and a long-term solution - partial redevelopment of three dilapidated hospital sites is, in my opinion, only a temporary fix.

Andy Love

By email