Redevelopment plans for a large new hospital next to Watford General and significant refurbishment at other West Hertfordshire hospitals have been approved.

It has been nearly two years since a shortlist of preferred options were set out for the future of the hospitals - which board members of the West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust have now backed.

The next step involves the trust completing an outline business case setting out detailed cost and implementation plans, which will be submitted to the New Hospital Programme and the Treasury for a funding decision.

It is hoped that construction will start in 2024.

This comes as a blow for the New Hospital Campaign and those wishing for a new hospital away from the current Watford General site.

Watford Observer: The new builds would be constructed next to the current hospital site. Credit: BDP/West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS TrustThe new builds would be constructed next to the current hospital site. Credit: BDP/West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Just last week, Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning urged the trust to reconsider pushing ahead with recommendations that are “frankly so flawed, unbalanced and rushed and must be challenged”.

Phil Townsend, the trust chairman, said: “We understand that some dissatisfaction remains. We do listen to local people who oppose our plans but we have to weigh those views against a vast amount of clinical, technical and financial information.

“The question of where to locate emergency hospital services draws such a wide range of views that it is impossible to please everyone.

“Our hope is that in time, people will understand that we are acting in the best interests of patient safety. And there simply isn’t any higher priority than that.”

Watford Observer: Watford General HospitalWatford General Hospital

He added that the current buildings become “harder and more costly to maintain” with every passing month.

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “Great! We need to see investment in a new hospital in Watford and better facilities at Hemel and St Albans too. Vital the government delivers the funding needed to make this happen.”

Councillor Asif Khan, chairman of Watford Labour, said: “I warmly welcome the decision to go ahead with the plans. Watford Labour are long-time supporters of new hospital facilities at the current site.

“We need to get on with the completion of the hospital and the government must provide the funding that is needed to build these much-needed facilities for the benefit of Watford and South West Herts residents.”

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