After reading Philip Aylettâs letter about plans by the West Hertfordshire hospitals NHS trust to build a new hospital in Watford (31 August), I felt it only right to stand up for the trustâs well-considered and long-thought-through decision. After an extensive independent feasibility study looking at six potential sites, it was clear that the Watford option was the fastest route to getting desperately needed new facilities to serve patients across west Hertfordshire.
The trustâs senior clinicians have devised plans for services to be provided across three local hospitals, with Watford remaining the centre for emergency and specialist care services. These plans, and the availability of land at the Watford site, mean that this is by far the best option, with no need to purchase huge parcels of land or navigate the more complex planning legislation around building on greenfield. This means it is possible to deliver brand new health facilities far sooner.
And letâs be clear, this is not a rehash of buildings that are no longer fit for purpose. These will be new, state-of-the-art buildings fitted with up-to-date facilities and technology. The upgrade of two local hospitals is an integral part of plans and in no way an afterthought. In a survey earlier this year, more than 70% of West Hertfordshire NHS staff who completed it agreed that the proposals would increase the quality of the care that they provide. Their voice matters.
Watford is an accessible town â far more so than many of the more remote sites suggested. Itâs for good reason that hospitals have predominantly been built in town centres, and as we face the challenges of climate change, surely keeping hospitals where people can walk, cycle or take public transport rather than revert to the private car makes considerable sense. We have even built a new road to the hospital with a âblue light onlyâ section, making it even easier for people to get the treatment they need quickly.
Politics aside, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform hospital services for the region, using the best design and latest technology to deliver great care. Time is not on our side, the need is urgent. So letâs stand with our health service and have faith in its decision â thatâs the least it deserves.
Mayor of Watford