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All systems go as trust redevelopment plans are back on track!

Posted: 23 December 2021

Picture of Watford Hospital maternity block

Photo: the outline business case is back on track
for the hospital redevelopment

Health bosses in west Hertfordshire have been given the perfect Christmas present – money to pay external advisors who are supporting their redevelopment plans.

Earlier this month West Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust's (WHHT) board reluctantly accepted that key professionals were going to be stood down until the national funding pipeline resumed.

But now it's full steam ahead again as the trust – which is in the ‘pathfinder' priority group of the New Hospital Programme – has been promised the necessary funding to keep its redevelopment team together and on track.

Their priority is to complete a detailed ‘cost benefit' analysis of options for the three hospitals managed by the trust; Hemel Hempstead Hospital, St Albans City Hospital and Watford General Hospital. The economic information will form part of the outline business case (OBC) which will also include a detailed design and implementation plan for the trust's preferred option for each hospital. The OBC – which is set for completion next year – will be submitted to the New Hospital Programme for approval and funding.

This OBC process follows on from last October's milestone when WHHT's board agreed a shortlist of options. These were all based on retaining and improving the current three sites because the trust maintains this is the best and fastest route to securing much needed improvement to its hospitals.

An engagement programme called Your Care, Your Views (which ran in early 2021) made it clear that the redevelopment is about more than the buildings. The proposals set out how services and specialty teams will be grouped together and that there will be a clearer vision and clinical model for each hospital.

The process that the trust must follow requires a thorough review of which buildings need to be replaced (new build) and which could be retained and improved (refurbished).

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. The outline planning application for a new emergency and specialist care hospital on land adjacent to the current hospital (which has been approved) shows how this can be achieved.

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.

"We will follow the process and provide a range of costed options but we feel very strongly that keeping our main clinical block would be a very poor use of public money.

"In the case of our hospitals in Hemel Hempstead and St Albans, we will be recommending a mixture of some new build and some refurbishment of current buildings on these two sites."

She added: "We are very happy to continue working at pace on this important programme after so many years of pursuing funding at every opportunity. It feels really good to keep the momentum going, including those aspects of our plans which require the input of external experts, such as architects and cost planners.

"We have always been quick to praise our own staff for their input and enthusiasm on our redevelopment plans, but we are equally thrilled to have such a talented and committed team of external experts working alongside us.

"For our part, we are continuing to make our hospital services slicker and quicker through introducing more ‘one stop' models of care and providing specialist input and assessment at the earliest stage possible. Delivering our care differently is a key focus for us as we begin to consider how our new and remodelled facilities will support our streamlined services."


  1. For more information, please contact the communications team on: 01923 436280 or email: Out of hours, please call the Watford General Hospital switchboard on 01923 244366 and ask for the on call communications manager.
  2. For further information about our redevelopment plans please see our web pages.