Dear Mr Johnson, Mr Hancock and West Herts Hospital Trust’s redevelopment team

New hospital campaigners predicted that West Herts Hospital Trust’s redevelopment plans for a 90 per cent new build at the Vicarage Road hospital site were likely to cost more than the £540 million that the NHS regulators had indicated was the upper limit of any hospital rebuild scheme. Add to this, that it is now clear that a new large hospital at Watford would not be completed by 2025/2026 and the reasons the trust gave for ruling out a new site for west Herts A&E hospital seem a little bit fragile.

West Herts Hospital Trust are now talking about a scaled down version of the trust’s preferred option - I find this absolutely astonishing given their arguments for not including a new and more accessible site in their short list of options to pursue in more detail! Wouldn’t be ready by 2025 and cost more than £540 million - yes WHHT, that is your shortlisted and preferred option at the west Watford location!

It is the right time for the trust to admit that they were wrong and bring back to the table a new Greenfield site option for a full and fair evaluation against the Vicarage Road site options before anymore valuable time is lost.

The Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust are well on the way with their plans for a health campus on a green field site and there is no reason that resources could be shared to save costs and time in finding, designing and planning for a new hospital on a green field site for West Herts (scale of economies).

A high rise hospital at the Vicarage Road site is now clearly not the optimum solution given the sums of money involved and the duration of any hospital build next to the current live Watford General Hospital.

Importantly, the trust will need to avoid any disruption of hospital services during construction of a new hospital and not allow the public to be at any risk from a congested building sites that will bring loads of dust, noise, hundreds of workmen, heavy equipment and heavy vehicle movements for many years. Are the windows and air conditioning at the current Watford General Hospital in a fit state to keep such unhealthy contaminates away from the patients and staff?

West Herts residents and hospital staff deserve a hospital set in a spacious and green environment that makes patients feel at ease whilst being conducive to treatment, mental health and well-being.

The trust’s designs for a new hospital at the current Watford General Hospital location are, in my opinion, ‘clinical looking’ at best given the design includes plans for three uninspiring high rise blocks on the sharply steep gradient currently used for public parking. To add to this, Watford Football Club are now back in the Premier League which makes it even more difficult for patients and ambulances visiting Watford General Hospital on match days.

Mr Johnson - this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a hospital for the people, not a landmark for the west Watford skyline!

Many of the patients attending West Herts’ major hospital will not be so mobile as the board members of WHHT or the NHS decision makers who are currently making decisions on the future of our A&E hospital. A new multi-storey car park does little to help those who are unable or too poorly to drive to west Watford. Many will rely on public transport to get to their hospital appointments - there is no nearby railway station to Vicarage Road and no direct bus service to Watford General for the majority of residents living in West Herts.

I also pity the ambulance crews who have to relay patients back and forth from such a congested and hard to get to location. This is only going to get worse as more Riverwell regeneration developments go up along with other major developments being constructed around the roads leading into west Watford.

A high rise hospital is great if you have no fear of heights but to those who do and those who don’t like using lifts they are a nightmare.

With Mount Vernon Hospital looking to relocate to be alongside West Herts’ acute services hospital, this is an ideal opportunity to find a location that can comfortably accommodate both hospitals and staff without undue risk to vulnerable patients.

It is now clear that West Herts will not get a completed new large hospital at the Vicarage Road site by 2025 which is the main reason given for discounting a new and more central site.

Surely it is time to look again at the available sites for a new hospital, including the Bushey Hall golf course, and design a hospital in keeping with the patients and staff who will be using it. They are the most important people in all of this and full consideration of their needs and wellbeing should be paramount.

Andrew Love

St Albans resident