Building of the new facility for Watford General Hospital won’t start until the end of 2026.  Construction of the 260-foot tower block hospital was originally scheduled by architects to begin in the autumn of 2024.

The new date was announced by Health Secretary Victoria Atkins on a visit to the hospital last week. Perhaps without realising it, the Minister was confirming a two-year delay.

As recently as November last year, the West Herts Trust told local media that construction would start in 2025/26.

The teetering timetable will disappoint the Trust. But it does give the NHS to chance to reconsider this unrealistic plan and look at new site alternatives that could offer a better outcome for patients and taxpayers.


Money Troubles

The continuing hold-up may be linked to the Trust’s dire financial problems. A £20 million deficit looms for this financial year, ending in March, with more to come next year.

West Herts is a smallish trust financially – about £500 million income – and it just doesn’t have the financial muscle to take on the £1.3 bn towering infirmary project – one of the most expensive of the whole 40 ‘new’ hospital schemes.

This is the height (pun intended) of financial irresponsibility.

The Trust’s Chief Financial Officer warned in 2022 that it needed to break even to help it win Government approval for the towering infirmary. The Trust is miles from achieving that, with the ‘outline business case’ for the scheme stuck in Whitehall.

So severe financial cuts are being applied to try to get the Watford towers project back on track. The delay is giving management the chance to implement tougher measures on the three overspending divisions: emergency, medicine and surgery.

Our vital caring services are being cut back to fund the Watford Hospital rebuild extravaganza.