Skip to content

TOP EXPERT BLASTS HOSPITAL PLANS

Plans for new hospital provision in west Hertfordshire, which are the
subject of a legal challenge by the NHC, have been comprehensively
attacked by a highly experienced construction expert, Robert Scott.

He has studied the proposals by the Herts Valleys

Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) and the West Herts Hospitals NHS
Trust (WHHT) to rebuild a few of the decrepit and unsafe buildings at
Watford General Hospital, do very little work at St. Albans City Hospital
and leave Hemel Hempstead as a hospital in name only.

HVCCG and WHHT argue they faced a funding limit of £350 million from
central government and this is the best solution within that cap. However
Mr. Scott concludes his 35 page report for the NHC by stating that there
is no prospect of constructing a credible redevelopment or new build plan
within that limit. He says that the whole feasibility of the plans are
unproven and the subject of major doubt”.

He states that the assumptions made about costs have many flaws and
concludes that the cost impact of the selected option is much greater than
building a new hospital on a clear central site, so the latter option should
now be re-evaluated. He argues that the search for alternative sites was
terminated prematurely” and should now be started up again.

He estimates that the chosen option would cost far more than the stated
£350 million limit - £530 million for not even solving half the problems on
the Vicarage Road site. A single site new build could be constructed for a
broadly similar figure but savings could be made to the cost which would
not be possible via redevelopment because “it is not possible to establish
the hidden conditions of the buildings to be demolished… until they are vacated” nor can decontamination needs be established.

Also Mr. Scott considers the estimated time to finish the planned redevelopment – less than three years – is unrealistic. He says it would probably take double
this time with cost implications, and that it would certainly take longer
than a complete new build.

Mr. Scott has compared the costs of several new build hospital projects
around the country and concludes that they tend to be at least 40% lower
than those estimated for a new build hospital in west Hertfordshire, so a much
smaller figure than has been calculated would be achievable. It also
needs to be considered, says Mr. Scott, that “new buildings can be
expected to be virtually maintenance free for 7 to 10 years” whereas
partly redeveloped existing estates will keep needing attention “through
numerous failures and breakdowns”.

There would also be a negative impact on staff recruitment and retention
because of “the poor environment and disruption during the works” that
of course would not apply to a new build, which would also attract more
revenue because of higher bookings for elective surgery and treatment.
Mr. Scott says his overall verdict is that “there is no credible basis to
have excluded the Clear Site New Build options and no case for
continuing to pursue the proposed redevelopment of the Watford
estate”.

The report can be read in full by clicking here

Robert Scott has had many years’ experience at a senior level in major construction
companies including several NHS projects and is a Fellow of the Chartered
Institute of Building.

The NHC believes the NHS must take the implications of this thorough
and meticulous analysis very seriously and urgently institute a change of
course.

As reported previously the NHC has launched a legal challenge by judicial
review against HVCCG for not carrying out the required public
consultation before excluding the new hospital options, and also before
choosing their preferred option. There is a target of £20,000 to fund the
legal action and we urge the public to support this via

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/new-hospital-campaign

or direct to our bank account:

NAME:DHAG-New Hospital Campaign
SORT CODE:30-80-49
ACCOUNT NUMBER:34945668

NOTE:
The plans referred to are known as a Strategic Outline Case (SOC) which was
approved by the HVCCG and WHHT boards on 11 July and has now been
submitted to NHS regulators for consideration.