Health chiefs are to be challenged in the courts, when a judicial review will consider how plans for future hospital services have been developed.

The Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) – alongside the West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust – is currently drawing-up detailed plans for the potential redevelopment of hospital services.

Last month, in the latest stage of the ongoing process, the CCG and trust board agreed that the focus of their plans should be existing sites – with the bulk of redevelopment planned for Watford General.

But health campaigner Ron Glatter – acting on behalf of the New Hospital Campaign, – has questioned  whether the option of a new purpose-built hospital was fully and fairly considered in earlier stages of the process.

Today and Wednesday, Mr Glatter's concerns will be put to a judicial review.

Mr Glatter applied for the judicial review more than 12 months ago,  after the CCG and the trust formally backed plans to bid for £350million of NHS funding.

At that stage, the trust and the CCG had agreed that the bulk of that funding should be invested on the Watford General site – with some services in St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals.

Watford Observer:

But Mr Glatter and members of the New Hospital Campaign question whether the alternative option of a new hospital on a new site was fully and fairly considered as part of that early process.

Mr Glatter applied for the judicial review so the decision-making of the CCG and trust could be scrutinised by the courts.

And now he says he is pleased that the imminent hearing means the case will be put.

Speaking in advance of the judicial review, he said: "I am pleased that this is now expected to happen – and I look forward to putting our case."

Watford Observer:

CGI of redeveloped Watford General alongside the Riverwell housing development

Judicial review is a legal process where a person can legally challenge the lawfulness of a decision, action or failure to act of a public body, such as a clinical commissioning group.

It focuses not on the conclusion reached, but the way in which a decision has been made and the procedures followed.

It is believed the challenge to the CCG’s decisions will focus on whether or not the CCG made the decisions 'without holding the required public consultation'.

As a result of Covid-19 restrictions it had been thought that the hearing would have been held virtually. But it is not yet known whether this will be the case.

Watford Observer:

Commenting on the imminent hearing, a spokesperson for the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group said: "The judicial review hearing will take place in the high court on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

"The claim is based on last year’s board decisions on the shortlist and preferred option for the redevelopment of hospital facilities in west Hertfordshire.

"We and our partners, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, are defending the claim."

In the past 12 months, the CCG and the trust have continued on a process to draw-up plans for hospital services – in advance of submitting a bid to government. That bid is now expected to be for up to £590m.

As part of that process they have been evaluating a number of options – at existing trust sites and on alternative greenfield sites – to determine which are affordable, provide value for money and can be delivered by 2025/26.

These options have included proposals for a single purpose-built hospital on sites that have included the former Radlett Aerodrome or Chiswell Green – neither of which are owned by the trust.

At a joint meeting of the CCG and the Trust boards earlier this month, both boards agreed to focus on plans to develop existing sites.

But the plans will still need further development and the backing of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS regulators and the Treasury before they can go ahead.