The future of a leading cancer treatment centre serving a population of two million in south east England is increasingly uncertain, as plans to share a site with Watford’s acute hospital run into serious practical obstacles. Contradictory statements from the NHS are causing confusion.
Mount Vernon Cancer Centre (MVCC) in Northwood is one of the country’s top cancer hubs, with an international reputation for treatment, and it helps many thousands of patients annually. But years of neglect have left its buildings in a poor state and care is hampered by the need to move patients to other hospitals if their condition deteriorates. Recruitment is difficult.
The answer is seen by clinicians and patients as a move to share a site with an acute hospital that can step in when needed to provide intensive care and other support. Watford General Hospital - one of the six flagship ‘new hospital’ sites under the HIP1 programme announced in 2019 - is emerging as the preferred route forward.
Right area, wrong site
Health campaigners in Hertfordshire’s New Hospital Campaign group (NHC) have warmly welcomed the idea of combining the site of an acute hospital for West Hertfordshire with a new Mount Vernon. That would leave MVCC geographically well-placed to serve the huge region it covers, extending from Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to North London. However, the NHC believe that a combination of Mount Vernon with a new acute and emergency West Herts hospital on a clear central site for the area would be better than trying to refurbish and rebuild at Watford General, where buildings are ageing and unsuitable.
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