Dacorum Health Action Group (DHAG) Chair Philip Aylett made the case for investment in Hemel Hempstead Hospital to a full meeting of Dacorum Council this week.

He called on the Council to press West Herts Trust to keep a wide range of hospital services in Dacorum, Hertfordshire’s largest borough, slamming as ‘misleading’ claims by the Trust that their current plans would give Hemel Hospital a ‘distinct role’ for the future in hosting planned medical appointments.  Trust documents analysed by DHAG show that Watford will retain its role as the area’s main centre for planned medical appointments.

And there is a mystery about money for new hospital developments, with the Trust position confused.

Council Leader Ron Tindall reported that he was in discussion with the Trust about health services for Dacorum, but revealed that there was no news about finance for any development. Mr Tindall said of his talks with Trust Chief Executive Matthew Coats and Chair Phil Townsend:

We couldn’t actually come to a great deal because the government are still keeping their cards very close to their chest and we’ve still got no details about the money, which is unfortunate because nothing else can be decided without that.

Dr Aylett commented: ‘It was good to get a sympathetic hearing and to see that there is interest from our elected representatives in Dacorum in ensuring good hospital services here. There seems to be a cross-party recognition that we need to have convenient hospital care close to home. Action is needed – there is no guarantee in the plans of the unelected and untransparent Trust that Hemel Hospital would have a clear future role, despite their misleading claims to the contrary.

‘Whatever happens in the Borough there seems to be agreement across the Council that a new emergency care and specialist hospital on a clear new site would still be the best way forward for Dacorum residents.

‘But we are a long way from decisions, and confusion reigns about funding. The Trust say they are unable to tell the Council what money will be available for redevelopment, but less than two months ago they welcomed a Government announcement of ‘full funding’ for their preferred option at Watford. No funding figures were made public.

‘Does that mean that, while Watford funding is agreed, Hemel and St Albans Hospitals will still have to fight for financial support? Or was the ‘full funding’ announcement just mostly hot air, as we have suspected all along?

‘In recent months the Trust has gone into its shell, with almost no public engagement about its plans. The funding picture for Dacorum and West Herts generally is totally unclear and the mystery needs clearing up.’