It is worrying to read in this week’s Review that West Herts Hospital Trust is yet again reviewing the future of St Albans City Hospital as part of the Watford Health Campus Scheme. I have just been interviewed by BBC 3CR on my thoughts. We don’t have any detail, moving bureaucrats and offices would be very different from moving clinical services. St Albans has a long history of being stabbed in the back over its hospital – promises that A&E would stay by an MP who then scarpered off to Harpenden, subsequent promises of an accessible super hospital at Hatfield which idea shipwrecked on Gordon Brown’s obsessions about using private finance.
I had my appendix taken out in St Albans, my oldest son was born on the Normandy Road site. Neither could happen today. Vicarage Road in Watford is a simply horrible place to get to from St Albans – particularly on match day and if you are not in a blue light vehicle. It’s a complicated bus journey with changes, an iniquitous taxi fare, and penal parking charges imposed if you take the car especially for short visits. People needing hospital services tend to be stressed, elderly, infirm. Their overall wellbeing and convenience should be just as much a factor as the Trust’s immediate financial convenience and wish to use St Albans as a land bank. The Hospital Trust’s strategy is to be published ‘later this year’ with ‘appropriate public engagement and consultation’. There will be a lot of anxious people in St Albans fearing the worst.