Hemel Hempstead MP Mike Penning said he is “disappointed but not surprised” at the decision by the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group to support West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust’s decision not to pursue a greenfield option for a new hospital for the area.
At a “meeting held in public” in Watford yesterday, the board members voted unanimously to support West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust’s strategy to rebuild on the Watford site.
In fact, board members at the meeting were not presented with a greenfield option at all.
Mike said: “They are making a terrible decision on this. This decision will affect health services in this area for the up to the next 60 years. Clearly over such a long timescale the Watford site is not suitable. It is not even suitable now!
“Anyone with any common sense would see that we should all work together to persuade NHS England that in the long-term a new centrally located solution is the sensible way forward.”
“much of the discussion focussed on meeting legal criteria for ‘public engagement’ rather than listening to what the public actually say. It was more about justifying what they are doing than doing the right thing.
“It is clear that the decision had already been made. The choice was made out to be ‘we either accept this or face endless delays’ with red-herrings about sites in Redbourn or objectors in Kings Langley thrown in.”
The Trust is putting forward two options for further consideration. Neither option includes a new greenfield site and both are centred on Watford.
“The hospital campaigners have done a great job and put up a strong case, headed up by experts in the field with many years’ experience. But the Trust, and now the CCG, haven’t listened, preferring instead to listen to armies of consultants.
“Representatives of all local political parties and hospital campaigns attended the meeting. Whatever has gone on before, one thing we all agree on is that a new centrally located hospital is the best solution for everybody for the future.”
Finally, Mike said:
“This is disappointing, but not the end. We will fight them at every opportunity. The people deserve to be properly consulted and listened to – not just ‘engaged with’, whatever that means!”