A council leader is lobbying the Prime Minister to ensure plans to revamp hospitals in West Hertfordshire are given financial support.
At a recent meeting of Hertfordshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee meeting, a motion was carried for council leader, Richard Roberts, to write to Boris Johnson to officially set out the local authority’s support for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s ambitious redevelopment plans and to ask that they are fully funded.
The support comes after it was revealed that the estimated cost of building and refurbishing the trust’s three hospitals has more than doubled in recent years to £1.1bn.
Currently the trust is working on its outline business case (OBC), which lays out different cost options for rebuilding and refurbishing its three acute sites.
It has taken longer than we'd hoped to get to this point and our future projection of when we will be able to build has changed and that means a building cost inflation has to be built into the numbers, so that is why numbers have moved
The OBC will ultimately be submitted to the New Hospital Programme and Treasury for approval and funding.
Following many years of pursuing funding and extensive consideration of new site options, the trust is committed to retaining and refurbishing its current sites rather than building completely-new facilities at all sites.
But inflation rates, delays to construction, and changes in the project scope have driven the cost up from the initial £410m.
If agreed, the plans, drawn up in partnership with BDP architects, include building a hospital adjacent to the current Watford General Hospital as well as improvements to Hemel Hempstead Hospital and St Albans City Hospital.
Trust deputy chief executive, Helen Brown, said: “It has taken longer than we'd hoped to get to this point and our future projection of when we will be able to build has changed and that means a building cost inflation has to be built into the numbers, so that is why numbers have moved.”
Speaking at a recent stakeholder meeting, she added that the scope had increased to meet a much-larger estimate for future demand for services, which has added nearly £100m to the original proposals.
The cross-party support is a great example of patients and not politics taking centre stage and we very much appreciate the endorsement of our plans and are grateful for any help with our continued efforts to secure funding
The previous costings also did not account for advancements in digital technology or investment in sustainability measures to meet the NHS’s carbon reduction targets.
Welcoming the support from the local authority, Brown said: “Many of Hertfordshire’s county councillors have shared our hopes and disappointments over the many years we have been trying to secure significant investment for our hospitals.
“The cross-party support is a great example of patients and not politics taking centre stage and we very much appreciate the endorsement of our plans and are grateful for any help with our continued efforts to secure funding.”
If the OBC is approved later this year a contractor will be appointed, and a full business case developed.