Health Minister Lord Markham does not know the meaning of the word ‘independent’.

In a letter to a local MP Markham claims that the choice of Watford General for the emergency and specialist hospital was based on ‘an independent feasibility study in August 2020,’

This is a misleading statement.

This refers to a Site Feasibility Study (SFS) commissioned by West Herts Trust, which concluded that building a new hospital at Watford General would be much quicker than building on a new clear site. This gave a green light to the Watford project.

But the SFS’s conclusions were not supported by the evidence.  It was a poor report, which admitted that its conclusions were only ‘subjective’.

Yet absurdly the Government still use the SFS as the only substantial bit of technical evidence for Watford General.

And the SFS was not independent.

Collins dictionary contains this definition:

An independent inquiry or opinion is one that involves people who are not connected with a particular situation, and should therefore be fair.

The Site Feasibility Study was  done by a ‘company’ called RFL Property Services Ltd (RFLPS). Sounds independent – but it’s not.

According to its LinkedIn profile, RFLPS is a 100% wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Free London Group (RFLG).  Set up in 2018, RFL’s main job is to be the estates and property department of that big London hospital system.


  1. Is effectively part of the NHS, like the West Herts Trust. Nine of RFLPS’s directors over the years have shared their address with the Royal Free London Group or Trust
  2. Were already working on the West Herts projects – something that wasn’t disclosed in the SFS

But there’s more. The two Trusts have been very close to each other. In October 2018, the Royal Free London Trust and West Herts announced that they had “joined forces as part of a new clinical partnership. The partnership follows months of close collaboration between the two trusts.” It wasn’t just clinicians – the Trusts worked together over recent years on digital systems, occupational health and bids for ultrasound contracts

There was no way RFL could take an unbiased, fair and balanced view of the arguments for and against locating the new hospital at Watford General. This is known as a conflict of interest. The close corporate relationships between RFL’s owners and W Herts should have been made clear, but they weren’t.

The judgement of the SFS is not valid because it is not independent. The Trust have no solid evidence for pushing ahead at Watford General.