The future of Hemel Hempstead Hospital looks more uncertain than ever, with West Herts Trust looking at ‘options’ for the site.

Ambitious plans for a major Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) for the town have slipped well behind schedule, with the Trust refusing this week to explain why.

CDCs offer one-stop visits for checks, scans and tests, to achieve early diagnoses for patients, timely treatment and intervention.

In November 2022, the Trust made a big promise that Hemel would be the ‘hub’ of a West Herts CDC, with St Albans as a mere ‘spoke’. A ‘new build extension’ to accommodate the Hemel CDC was planned for 2024.

But nothing has happened to bring this important facility any closer.

When asked the target date for submitting a business case for the Hemel CDC, a Trust official told this week’s Board meeting that there was no date yet. So there is no chance of anything being built for many years. ‘Options’ for the site are being explored – which, according to many sources, is likely to include closure and replacement by a new facility in the town centre. There is no detail whatsoever on what that might mean,

Expect a glorified GP’s surgery at most.

Financially, West Herts look to be abandoning Hemel Hospital and hoping for someone else to pick up the tab for services in Dacorum. Papers for this week’s Board meeting say:

bids have been submitted for alternative funding for planned care services, where this is available. The future [?] for St Albans lend themselves readily to these individual service bids, whereas the focus at Hemel Hempstead is on developing care pathways ahead of significant investment to consolidate the site.

This sounds as if the Trust are optimistic about outside funding for St Albans but not for investment at Hemel, where the focus is simply on ‘consolidation’ of the site.

It is clearer than ever that the Trust, faced with a huge bill for Watford General’s towering infirmary project, are intent on cutting back hard on investment anywhere else. 

As ever, the big losers are the people of Dacorum, who are faced with long journeys for treatment in the shambles that is Watford General.