Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he’ll arrange a meeting with the Secretary of State to "unblock" progress on a new hospital for West Hertfordshire "one way or another", after the matter was raised in Parliament.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is currently developing its business case to rebuild Watford General Hospital on a site next to the current hospital and is waiting to find out how much money it will have to spend.

But there are calls from some campaigners for the trust to scrap that plan and build a new hospital away from Watford that they believe better serves the whole of west Hertfordshire.

Among those campaigning for a new hospital is Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning who brought the issue up directly with the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

Watford Observer: Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning speaking in Parliament on Wednesday November 24. Credit: Parliament TVHemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning speaking in Parliament on Wednesday November 24. Credit: Parliament TV

In a quick-fire question and answer session, Sir Mike said: "The Prime Minister cheered all of my constituents up when he came to south west Hertfordshire and said we were going to have a new hospital.

"Sadly Prime Minister, even though the money's there, the local management of our trust have blocked it...they are going to refurbish Watford and not give us a brand new hospital on a greenfield site which is what we want."

He asked Mr Johnson: "Will you meet me and some of my constituents to unblock this and tell the NHS they need to build a new hospital for Hemel Hempstead?"

In response, the Prime Minister said he would be "very happy" to secure a meeting with Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and said: "I’m sure we’ll be able to unblock things one way or another."

Watford Observer: CGI of what a rebuilt Watford General Hospital could look like in the form of three blocks. Credit: BDP/West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust CGI of what a rebuilt Watford General Hospital could look like in the form of three blocks. Credit: BDP/West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Watford's mayor Peter Taylor, who is backing rebuild plans in the town, responded to the exchange in Parliament saying: "The trust have worked on a detailed case but now we need the government to get on with delivering the funding needed to make this a reality.

"The Prime Minister can unblock this by delivering the investment Watford General needs, now."

Boris Johnson visited Watford General Hospital in October 2019 and shortly after announced West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust would be one of the first trusts to benefit from the Government's New Hospital Programme.

Initially pledging £400 million for the trust to spend, plans to rebuild Watford General - including a 17 storey tower - are understood to cost nearer £600 million.

Watford Observer: Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Watford General Hospital in October 2019. Credit: PAPrime Minister Boris Johnson at Watford General Hospital in October 2019. Credit: PA

Earlier this month, local leaders including Mr Taylor, the town's Conservative MP Dean Russell, and St Albans Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper co-signed a letter asking for an update on when funding would be allocated to the trust.

Trust deputy chief executive Helen Brown recently rejected claims from campaigners from the New Hospital Campaign Group that its rebuild plans are in "chaos".

Related: Trust denies claims Watford hospital plans are in 'crisis'

Watford Observer:

After the exchange between Mr Penning and the Prime Minister, she said: "We share Sir Mike’s desire to see new hospital facilities for our patients and staff as soon as possible. However, our strongly held view is that the best route to achieving this is major redevelopment at Watford General Hospital and improvements to our hospitals in Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

"We are excited about our plans which are fully backed by our clinical staff."