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Hospital trust and CCG boards approve way forward for £350million redevelopment of local hospitals

The way forward for a £350m hospital redevelopment plan for west Hertfordshire was agreed by the boards of two local NHS organisations on Thursday 11 July.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) met first to approve a strategic outline case detailing a way forward based on ‘option one’ from a shortlist of four that had been through a detailed evaluation process. Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) board met later that day to consider the proposed way forward and endorsed the Trust board’s decision.

This decision is closely followed by these two steps; securing support from local health and social care leaders in mid-July (Hertfordshire and west Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership) and submitting a bid to NHS regulators and central government by the end of July for consideration as part of the comprehensive spending review.

Under ‘option one’ all three hospitals managed by WHHT would be retained, with a major transformation of the Watford General Hospital site and significant investment in the Hemel Hempstead and St Albans hospital sites.

This is not the first time the trust has made an application for funding but previous bids were deemed to be ‘unaffordable’ to the NHS.  Regulators asked the trust to do some more work and look at options that cost no more than the trust’s current annual turnover. This meant that the total cost of the redevelopment should not exceed £350million (in today’s prices).

The option that will be submitted this summer complies with the regulators’ guidance. It includes a new clinical building at Watford General which will be larger than the current main block and will house theatres and critical care as well as women’s and children’s services. There would also be a thorough refurbishment of the main block (the Princess Michael of Kent building). Wards would be modernised, with around 70 more beds, with greater space between them, more bathrooms and additional single ensuite rooms.

The Watford site has enough room for building work to be carried out in a phased way, creating new buildings before beginning work on the older buildings. This will greatly minimise disruption to patients and reduce the need to carry out major renovation in areas where services are running. The new multi storey car park – which is funded separately and due for completion in 2021 – will link directly to the new building and the existing main block and will mean that patients, staff and visitors no longer need to walk up a steep hill.

There would also be much needed investment on the Hemel Hempstead and St Albans sites.

Hemel Hempstead Hospital would become a centre for planned medical care, including a newly provided urgent treatment centre. The Hemel Hempstead facility would be redeveloped into a centre for looking after people with long term conditions and the next stage of planning will look at opportunities to bring additional primary care and community services onto the site. In this way the Hemel Hempstead site will become a hub for accessing a range of health and care services.

St Albans City Hospital would be enhanced as a planned surgical facility with a new cancer and surgical centre with an expanded diagnostic suite, refurbished theatres and inpatient beds and enhanced high dependency care to allow more complex cases to be undertaken at this hospital. It will also provide urgent treatment and outpatient services.

The plans are still at an early stage and will be developed in further detail when there is a response to the bid for funding, which we hope will be later this year or early next year. In looking at plans for each site, WHHT and HVCCG will continue to work towards their stated aim of investing in primary and community health care to increase care closer to home and investing in technology to support the delivery of health services.

The issues of investing in enhanced community healthcare and technology emerged as strong themes in discussions by both the hospital trust and CCG boards. Board members also raised the importance of making sure plans could accommodate future population growth and that work on the Watford site would be carried out in a way that would protect patient safety and experience. Discussions reflected on feedback received throughout a nine month engagement process and both boards thanked all those who had attended one of the many public meetings or had made written or verbal representations to the boards.

Christine Allen, chief executive of WHHT, said: “We have engaged widely and while we recognise that some communities would like a new hospital, we have chosen the option we believe is most likely to secure funding. Option one is so much more than a makeover – Watford General will be transformed and our sites in Hemel and St Albans will be modernised and streamlined. There are enormous benefits for all our patients with this option which is why we ask local people to get behind our bid and help to make it a reality.”

Kathryn Magson, chief executive of Herts Valleys CCG, said: “Our board considered all options fully and we are confident that option one provides the greatest benefit for the largest number of patients.

“This decision is a really important step forward towards delivering hugely improved hospital facilities for our residents. This redevelopment is not just about bricks and mortar – it’s about transforming how health services are delivered both in hospitals and the community. We’re already introducing improvements as part of our Your Care, Your Future work, including providing more outpatient services in the community and making new plans for urgent care. Transforming access to care and making best use of NHS resources will continue to be a focus as we move through the planning and approval process.”

 

 

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