National health chiefs who faced backlash after delaying plans to redevelop Watford General Hospital have now assured the West Herts Hospital Trust (WHHT) that those plans are back on track.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged £400m for the Watford redevelopment back in 2019 as part of the government’s New Hospital Programme (NHP).
At the beginning of last month, the WHHT board reluctantly accepted that key professionals, such as architects, were going to be stood down by national health chiefs until the national funding pipeline resumed.
The decision led Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, to say at the time: “It is deeply concerning to hear that plans to redevelop Watford General Hospital have been paused by the government.
“Staff, patients and volunteers deserve improved facilities at Watford General that we have been promised for so long.
“I know that many of us will be angry and worried by these delays. The government need to get this programme moving again by delivering the funding we need and ensuring the redevelopment of Watford General takes place as planned.”
But just before Christmas, WHHT announced that they had been given money to pay external advisors who are supporting their redevelopment plans – and that the plans were once more “all systems go”.
Their priority is now to complete a detailed ‘cost benefit’ analysis of options for the hospital. WHHT’s board has clearly stated that, for emergency and specialist care services, there is a very strong case to replace the majority of the current clinical buildings at Watford General Hospital with new build clinical facilities.
WHHT deputy chief executive Helen Brown said: “We are confident that the cost benefit appraisal will clearly demonstrate that replacing the majority of buildings at Watford – including the Princess Michael of Kent building – is the best option, clinically and financially.”
Following the most recent update, Mayor Taylor said: “This is fantastic news for everyone associated with Watford General. We have been pressing for the government to commit to this project.
“It’s vital that we now see good progress in the months ahead. Investing in a better hospital in Watford is so important for patients and the staff at Watford General.
“The government must make sure that the funding is in place to deliver better facilities for all of us.”