Scores of West Herts residents watched online as a High Court case about the future of the area’s hospitals, brought by the New Hospital Campaign (NHC), went ahead this week.
Campaigners for a new hospital were amazed and heartened by the public interest in the judicial review case, in which they urge the West Herts Trust to carry out a proper consultation on its plans. In just 24 hours more than 80 people requested access through the NHC to proceedings in the virtual courtroom.
The NHC’s barrister David Wolfe QC, supported by solicitors from Leigh Day, put forward our arguments that that the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) failed to consult the public properly before deciding to eliminate the option of a new hospital option in 2019. In the same year, the campaigners say that the HVCCG wrongly concluded that it did not need to have a formal public consultation about its own preferred option – involving disruptive demolition, refurbishment and some new build on the crumbling and part-polluted Watford site.
The Campaign wants the health bodies to conduct a full consultation so that a fair choice of sites can be offered to the public. The result of the judicial review case in the High Court before Mr Justice Kerr will be announced in a few weeks.
Jean Ritchie of the NHC said:
‘Once again so many people in West Hertfordshire have shown that they want a new modern hospital on a clear and accessible central site. It is still a complete mystery why the HVCCG and the West Herts Hospitals Trust are so insistent on this short-sighted approach.
‘All the evidence suggests that few people support the idea of redeveloping Watford General. The Trust published an opinion survey which contained some misleading and biased questions to help their case. Despite this bias, the survey results were clear – a substantial majority of respondents disagreed with the preferred option of trying to improve Watford General’.
Supporters of the fundraiser for the Judicial Review now face a wait of weeks or possibly months for the final outcome.
From everyone at New Hospital Campaign, thank you once again for all your support to bring this case to the court and continue the fight for the hospital West Herts needs.