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HRH The Duke of Gloucester officially opens emergency assessment unit at Watford General Hospital

Posted: 24 June 2021

Picture of eap opening

Photo: Holly Cant

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT) welcomed His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester to Watford General Hospital to officially open the emergency assessment unit (EAU) and to meet staff who have supported the trust’s pandemic response.

WHHT chief executive Christine Allen and chairman Phil Townsend greeted the royal party which included HM Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss, and Deputy Lieutenant Jane McCue.

The official opening of the expanded emergency assessment unit marks almost 100 days since the unit came into service in March. Since then, over 3,300 patients have attended. The expansion has resulted in additional beds, recliners and triage spaces – enough for 29 patients. The unit also houses the acute frailty service which provides intensive support to patients from a range of hospital, community and social care teams.

The role of the emergency assessment unit is to provide a timely diagnosis for patients which aids the decision on their next stage of care. This could include admission, a specialist appointment at a same day clinic or discharge home with additional care. Patients using the unit would typically be referred to it by their GP, the emergency department or the urgent treatment centre at Watford General Hospital.

Phil Townsend said: “We were delighted to show The Duke of Gloucester how our new unit relieves pressure in the emergency department, improving the flow of patients through Watford General and preventing unnecessary admission. This gives our patients a much better experience of care.”

His Royal Highness was introduced to staff by chief nurse Tracey Carter. The Duke met staff from emergency medicine, critical care, pathology, respiratory, surgical and operational services, who have made a tireless contribution to patient care during the pandemic.

Deputy chief executive Helen Brown showed The Duke of Gloucester the area planned for redevelopment where up to 90 per cent of the hospital buildings will be new. His Royal Highness also saw the groundworks for the new multi-storey car park for patients, staff and visitors.

The Duke of Gloucester then visited Watford Football Club where His Royal Highness heard how the club’s staff and volunteers had supported the community response to the pandemic.

The club provided a ‘sanctuary’ for the trust during the pandemic’s first wave where staff could swap busy wards and offices for spacious facilities and the serenity of an empty terrace overlooking the pitch. They served over 1,000 free meals every day, provided overnight accommodation for on-call staff, a space for antenatal clinics and washed around 40,000 sets of scrubs.

This year the trust used the club’s facilities to run vaccination clinics for staff courtesy of WFC’s ongoing and truly invaluable support.


  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. 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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