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Care minister gains glimpse of the future for hospital trust

Posted: 1 April 2021

Photo of minister for care Helen Whately talking to staff on Heronsgate ward

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) welcomed the minister for care, Helen Whately, to Watford General Hospital.

Unusually for a ministerial visit, the first port of call for Ms Whately was to the car park. Deputy chief executive Helen Brown and members of the acute redevelopment team used the vantage point of the car park to demonstrate the challenges posed to patients and staff by the current estate. The minister was also able to see first hand the work underway on the construction of a multi-storey car park which will make life easier for patients, staff and visitors.

Ms Whately was shown what the future could look like through the plans and proposals for new clinical buildings at Watford General Hospital. These plans form part of the trustís ambition for its acute redevelopment programme which will also see investment in its hospitals at Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

At the heart of the proposals Ė set out in the trustís engagement programme Your Care, Your Views Ė is the aim to give each of the trustís three hospitals a unique purpose along these lines:

Ms Whately said: "My huge thanks to the amazing staff at West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust for their hard work caring for patients Ė most of whom were treated at Watford General Hospital Ė during the pandemic. Thanks also to the staff who met with me and shared some of their experiences over the last year. They have been through so much and Iím determined to do all I can so staff get the support they need to recover from the trauma of the pandemic.

"Itís great news that over 11,000 health and care staff in West Hertfordshire have had their first Covid jab already Ė helping to protect both staff and those they care for. And I was delighted to see the vaccination centre in full swing with many staff getting their second jabs.

"I heard from staff about the redevelopment plans for NHS West Hertfordshire, which will make such a difference for patients and staff. Iím looking forward to seeing these ambitious plans progress as part of work to build 40 new hospitals across the country by 2030, backed by £3.7 billion in investment."

MP for Watford Dean Russell who took part in the visit said: "It was great to show the Minister the bold and ambitious plans for Watford General Hospital. The proposals will transform the site and the experience of patients from across west Herts who use this hospital."

Itís not just buildings and services that the trust is planning to change as it is also working to become a named teaching hospital. Director of medical education Dr Ashley Reece spoke about the trustís extensive and far-reaching role in the teaching and training of medical students, nurses and midwives and specialist health professionals.

The minister met frontline staff to learn about their experiences of the past year and also took a behind the scenes tour of the vaccination centre based at Watford Football Club. Staff at the centre are busy administering second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to health and care staff from across west Hertfordshire.

The minister joined volunteers as they delivered donations to staff on a ward and met lead nurse for patient experience Maggie Pacheco who told her about the enormous contribution the trustís volunteer response team has made to making life that little bit better for patients and staff through the pandemic.

  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: For out of hours media enquiries please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust serves people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three hospitals; Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead. The trust has a catchment area of over 500,000 people and is one of the largest employers locally, with around 5,000 staff and volunteers.
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