Your editorial (15 March) advises new hospital campaigners “to throw in the towel” because we are said to be faced with the ‘fact’ that, according to the West Herts Hospitals Trust, it would cost £750 million to build a hospital on a clear site and that’s quite a bit more than they will be allowed to borrow.

Well there are facts and facts. One fact is that £750million is a lot more than new hospitals in other parts of the country are costing. For example, it’s been reported recently that the Princess Alexandra Trust in nearby Harlow is planning to build a new general hospital on a clear site within the next six years for just £400 million, to replace the old site which has been declared ‘not fit for purpose’ by the Care Quality Commission. That description must also apply to the Vicarage Road site, as the recent ‘6 facets survey’ clearly showed.

It’s also well known that redeveloping an existing hospital site while trying to keep services running is bound to cost much more than originally estimated as well as presenting severe risks to safety, causing stress and disruption to patients and staff, taking longer and giving a much poorer final result. Building on a clear site is far more straightforward with no need to include large estimates for contingencies.

With their £750million estimate our Trust seems to be working on the familiar principle of ‘Pick a dramatic number and repeat it endlessly so that people come to believe it’. It looks like a fantasy figure, just like the one of over £1billion they put into their now rejected plan two years ago.

The people of Watford and district would be as badly served by the plan to try to extend the life of the present decaying facilities and adding some extra bits and pieces as would those from other parts of West Hertfordshire. I think this is beginning to be understood, though sadly not – for their own reasons – by the politicians.

If the Trust is so certain of its ‘fact’ I challenge it to put a new hospital on a clear site on their short-list so that a proper open comparison can be made. Without that, the current process will have no credibility.

Ron Glatter

New Hospital Campaign