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Road subsidence at Watford General Hospital - frequently asked questions

Posted: 24 August 2022

When did it happen?

Subsidence first appeared on Sunday 21 August.

What caused it?

An underground leak from a mains water pipe that was installed in the 1970s. This supplies PMOK, the main hospital building, and some other blocks on the site.

How big is it?

The hole is 2m by 1m with a depth of 0.5m.

Is it likely to get bigger?

We do not envisage the size increasing. We are taking steps to close down the leak and a plan is in place to begin repairs.

Is there any danger to surrounding area or buildings?

No. A structural engineer attended the site and the subsidence is isolated. The only affected area is the road, which is currently closed off.

Why is water flooding down the hill by the main hospital building?

We are pumping the water from the source of the leak out of the service duct to prevent any further damage.

Is the hospital safe?

Yes. The affected area is closed and clearly marked, diversions are in place and work is underway to start repairs.

Has the hospital been affected?

All patient services continue to run as normal, with the exception of a small number of dialysis sessions for renal patients. This service is provided by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust who are making alternative arrangements for these patients. There is some impact to the traffic flow around the site, however car parking and security staff are in attendance to offer directions and traffic management.

How do I attend my appointment?

Please access the site via Thomas Sawyer Way and follow the signs to the multi-storey car park.

How do I access the carparks?

The visitors and multi-storey car park can be accessed via Thomas Sawyer Way as normal.

There is no access to parking, disabled parking, or drop-off points via Vicarage Road. However, there are staff on hand to assist with the diversions in place at present.

How long will it take to repair?

Repairs to the leak are planned for this week; however, we are proceeding with caution as we are working with an aged infrastructure. Road repairs are likely be completed within the next two to three weeks.

How much will it cost to repair and who pays?

We are still investigating the extent of the damage and will also be checking other pipework nearby. We do not yet have the full costs.

The trust will meet the repair bill initially from our contingency funds, which help us meet the cost of unforeseen infrastructure failures. When we have unexpected bills that are over and above the usual cost of delivering clinical services, we make a case for additional retrospective funding.

  1. The proposed redevelopment of West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s estate is to update and replace hospital buildings as well as improve how the trust delivers hospital care for people in west Hertfordshire. At Watford General Hospital the trust proposes to move all clinical services into new buildings on land next to the current site as well as carrying out extensive refurbishment with some new build at its hospitals in Hemel Hempstead and St Albans. The trust is also redesigning how it will deliver services across the three hospital sites to provide modern hospital care. Please visit the trust’s redevelopment webpages to find out more at
  2. 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.
  3. West Hertfordshire Teaching 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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