I was very interested to read the various articles in last week’s edition about the boards of West Herts Hospitals and Herts Valleys CCG being likely to back the plans to redevelop Watford General Hospital. Your coverage has been exceptional.

The images that accompanied the article are supposedly showing how a redeveloped Watford General Hospital might look!

READ MORE: Plans to keep Watford General Hospital as West Herts A&E centre

I would like to make the following observations:

1) These published images appear to make Watford General Hospital look like a brand new and purpose built hospital which of course the Trust repeatedly have said they cannot afford! Are these computer generated images really what a £298 million redeveloped Watford General Hospital could look like or are they a rehash from a previous and far more expensive scheme? It makes me wonder!

2) The shiny new buildings in the images all appear to be very close to each other - I ask, how will those needing to use WGH during the redevelopment be expected to cope with the many years of dreadful noise, dust, construction traffic movements and disturbance whilst this all takes shape? so close to where patients are being treated and recovering, staff are diligently working and visitors are coming and going?

3) The images do not appear to show the actual position of the new car park in relation to the hospital buildings and how far people attending the hospital would be expected to walk.

4) The sharp and challenging gradient of the hospital site has been cleverly disguised in the images but of course the zigzag pathway gives it away!

5) Why are WHHT relentlessly pushing on with proposals to redevelop their dilapidated hospital estate when a new purpose built hospital would be ready sooner, cause far less disruption and be cheaper to build? as the construction contractor would not be demolishing, refurbishing or working around patients, visitors and staff. (The exact reasons the nearby Harlow Trust have given for pursuing plans for a new £400 million hospital in Harlow on a greenfield site!)

6) A new and more central “state of the art” A&E hospital would also bring, “More bangs for the buck”! Built to future NHS standards, environmentally friendly, a life of at least 50 years, with room for expansion and far easier to work to a fixed budget. Redevelopment of the existing WHHT’s estate is bound to uncover a lot of unknowns that will add significantly to the final cost and delay completion of the work.

7) Patients and hospital staff would surely be safer being as far away as possible from major demolition and construction work. Only a new build on a clear site can provide this level of safety.

8) In the unlikely event that there was a major incident during construction or the building contractor went “under” before the building work had been completed, a new build on a clear site would be easier to manage. WHHT cannot say it won’t happen - the demise of Carillion stopped two new builds but fortunately the hospitals were not operational unlike WGH which would remain operational whilst major redevelopment work was undertaken!

9) If WHHT had previously requested £710 million funding to redevelop WGH and St Albans City Hospital, how will £298 million suddenly turn WGH into looking like a new build hospital? Something doesn’t add up here!

10) If the WHHT process has been fair why has the current large and underutilised Hemel Hempstead hospital site not been considered as an option to redevelop as West Herts A&E Hospital?

11) HVCCG’s Kathryn Magson was reported as saying that the redevelopment proposal was a “compromise”- where exactly is the compromise in choosing option 1?

The New Royal Hospital in Liverpool will soon be complete and The Midland Metropolitan will hopefully be ready by 2022. Both were costed around £350 million and will provide some of the best medical facilities and hospital buildings in the UK.

The redevelopment of Watford General Hospital won’t start until 2023 and even by the time it is finished will fundamentally still be a refurbished hospital whatever the glossy new hospital images suggest.

Hemel Hempstead, Watford, St Albans and the other areas that make up the West Herts community deserve better than what is currently being proposed. Should the redevelopment of the current hospital sites go ahead, we won’t get another chance in our lifetime to have a new and more central A&E hospital for West Herts. I wonder what future generations will think about that as West Herts population soars by an estimated 150,000 in the next 15 years!

My final point is to Mr Taylor who says WHHT’s plans are exciting news for everyone living in South-West Hertfordshire! This is a rather insensitive comment to have made given the difficulty many residents have in getting to and from Vicarage Road for treatment, appointments and visiting friends and family. Of course Mr Taylor can happily back these plans now because he won’t be Mayor of Watford when all the construction and demolition work would be due to kick-off in 2023!

Andrew Love

St Albans