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Road subsidence at Watford General Hospital - frequently asked questions

UPDATE 1 February 2023

When did it happen?

Subsidence first appeared on Sunday 21 August 2022.

What caused it?

The subsidence was caused by an underground leak from a mains water pipe that was installed in the 1970s. The pipe supplies PMOK, the main hospital building, and some other blocks on the site.

How big is it?

The hole was approximately 2m by 1m with a depth of 0.5m. The hole has since been backfilled after the leaking pipe was repaired and there is no sign of further subsidence.

Is it likely to get bigger?

We do not envisage the size increasing. We have stopped the leak and have repaired the hole and a utilities duct which was displaced by the hole.

Is there any danger to the surrounding area or buildings?

No. The site was inspected by a structural engineer and a team of groundworks specialists and the subsidence is isolated. The only affected area is the road, which is closed off. There is no risk to the adjacent buildings or roads.

How long will it take to repair?

Repairs to the road may not be complete until spring 2023. We have repaired the mains leakage, which caused the subsidence, and investigated the damage underground which was significant but not widespread. This investigation is now complete and we have received the detailed design for the repair from our groundworks specialist. We have appointed a contractor to carry out the repair and are planning the repair schedule.

Is the hospital safe?

Yes. The affected area is closed and clearly marked, and diversions are in place.

Has the hospital been affected?

All patient services continue to run as normal.

How do I attend my appointment?

Please access Watford General Hospital via Thomas Sawyer Way and follow the signs to the multi-storey car park. You can access disabled parking, and drop-off and collection points around Watford General Hospital from Vicarage Road via a clearly marked diversion. This map shows drop-off and collection points around the site.

How do I access the carparks?

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

What are the arrangements for Patient Transport Services?

Non-emergency patient transport providers continue to collect and drop off patients from outside the main entrance of Princess Michael of Kent Wing (Main Block).

How much will it cost to repair and who pays?

We do not yet have the full costs as we are awaiting tender returns for the cost of the repair and road reinstatement.

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. 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 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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