Hospital chiefs say Watford General’s creaking infrastructure risks more disruption after a sinkhole appeared by the main entrance.

A water leak caused by ageing pipes has been blamed, which the West Herts trust said caused a hole approximately two metres by one metre, and 0.5 metres deep.

Chief strategy officer Clare Parker said such issues are “occurring far too often”, adding: “Much of our pipework - like so much of our infrastructure - dates from the 1960s and is now at the end of its life.

“Our concern is that the age and condition of our buildings mean that more disruption will follow from other systems which are now at risk of failing.”

Watford Observer: A water leak is said to be the cause. Picture: Jackie RinglandA water leak is said to be the cause. Picture: Jackie Ringland

She said the sinkhole was further evidence of how “urgently we need investment” for a new hospital on land next door.

The long-running saga appears nowhere near concluding as nearly two years have passed since the trust’s preferred options were set out.

Sunday’s sinkhole was caused by a leak from the mains pipe supplying multiple blocks, including the Princess Michael of Kent’s main clinical building.

Excess water has since been pumped out and water is continuing to be supplied to the hospital, according to the West Herts trust.

An online statement continued: “The supply will be temporarily turned off to allow a repair, which is being planned in line with advice from a structural engineer.

“Back up water supplies will be provided when the repair takes place.

“The timing of this has not yet been confirmed.”

It is currently unclear how much repairs will cost and who will pay for it. The trust has been asked for clarification.

All patient services are currently running as normal other than a “small number” of dialysis sessions for renal patients.

The area is cordoned off and traffic is being redirected, though access for ambulances along Thomas Sawyer Way and Willow Lane is unaffected.

Ms Parker added: “We are continuing to press the case for funding for a new hospital building at Watford and we believe this is a far better way to spend public money than continuing to patch up failing infrastructure.

“There is only so much we can do to keep our ageing estate in good working order.”