A hospital trust has published its shortlist of redevelopment options - and it does not include an option for a new hospital on a greenfield site.

The announcement from West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is another clear sign that major hospital facilities are likely to remain in Watford.

But Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning says West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust “continues to ride roughshod over the views of local people” with regards to heir hospital redevelopment plans.

The trust could have as much as £590 million to invest in its facilities, and while campaigners want to see a new hospital built centrally to Watford, St Albans, and Hemel Hempstead, the trust has drawn up a shortlist which only focuses on redeveloping its existing sites in the three towns.

After the list was published, Sir Mike said: “This is utterly ridiculous. It is clearly common sense that a new hospital on a new site and easily accessible to the people from all three major towns in the area is the best option.

“It would also be easy to build and could include a level car park and have space for expansion and a helipad.

An independent feasibility study published in August concluded that developing Watford General could be completed by 2025 - a deadline set by the government - but building a new hospital, which included sites in Park Street, Kings Langley, Leverstock Green, and Chiswell Green, would not meet the 2025 deadline.

Watford Observer:

Sir Mike Penning

Sir Mike added: “The feasibility study makes assumptions that the local planning process will delay construction so that the only site available is the existing hospital site.

“This is nonsense. There is no evidence that this would be the case.

“I believe that a new site option could meet the 2025 target date, but even if it did take a couple of years longer it is better in the long run to get the best site to serve the people of the area.

“We need to get this right for our children and grandchildren.”

Sir Mike has written a response and is following up on his letter to the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Jean Ritchie, from the New Hospital Campaign, said: "The trust’s proposed shortlist consists only of options based on the dysfunctional and inaccessible Vicarage Road site in west Watford.

"That list is based on a flawed and biased review of a small number of other sites, hand-picked by the trust and rushed through.

"Our expert’s detailed technical appraisal shows that the review provides no rational basis at all for excluding from the shortlist other options based on a clear, accessible central site. A new hospital on one of those sites could be built more quickly and at less cost and risk than building at Vicarage Road.

"This is a crucial issue, because after short-listing only a tiny number of options are seriously and genuinely assessed, with millions of pounds of public money thrown at this exercise.

"The rest are simply dumped, with no proper consideration at all. That would be an outrageous betrayal of the people of West Hertfordshire."

Watford Observer:

CGI birdseye view of a redeveloped Watford General

Helen Brown, deputy chief executive at the trust, said: "We are satisfied that all the sites that merited a review were considered in the recently published feasibility study and that the level of research into each site was appropriate for this stage of the process.

"The study concludes that the Watford site (either using the existing hospital footprint or adjacent land on the Riverwell site) can be successfully developed by 2025 or soon after. This is crucial for two equally important reasons; firstly, the expectation from the Government is that schemes are up and running in this timeframe, and secondly, we want to bring benefits to patients in the shortest time possible.

"Most of the buildings in Watford, where we see the highest number of our sickest patients from across west Hertfordshire, are in a poor condition and we owe it to them and to our staff to pursue a realistic option and one that can be delivered by 2025 or soon after.

"We absolutely agree with Sir Mike about the importance of grasping what is a time limited opportunity to provide the best possible hospital solution for our whole area now and for future generations."

"There has been a great deal of serious thought and planning over a long time about new buildings and new models of care and we are very keen to transform our buildings, enhance the patient experience and create great places to work.

"It is also worth reminding readers that our preferred option, if we can secure the required funding, is a complete transformation of the Watford site, with around 90 per cent of the buildings being new.

"There would also be investment in both Hemel Hempstead and St Albans Hospitals, including a new urgent treatment centre and diagnostic facilities at Hemel and in a new rapid access cancer diagnostics centre and upgrades to theatres at St Albans."

Residents are now invited to take part in a survey giving their views on the trust's shortlist, with a decision expected in October.

Visit the hospital trust website for more information or fill out the survey directly here.

The trust wants to hear from people across West Hertfordshire.