Campaigners for a new hospital in west Hertfordshire have commissioned architects to come up with their own designs.

West Herts 21st Century Hospital Solution are among groups calling for a new acute hospital to be built on a fresh site between Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.

They oppose an option preferred by West Herts Hospitals Trust and the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group to bid for £350 million from the Government to pay for extensive improvements to Watford General Hospital.

These would keep acute care and A&E at Watford, with St Albans City Hospital to become a planned surgery centre and Hemel Hempstead a focus for care for rheumatology, diabetes and respiratory conditions.

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A computer generated image of how a revamped Watford General Hospital might look

Gordon Yearwood, who spearheads the campaign, said: "This is a shocking dereliction of their duty to patients and residents across their area.

"They have wilfully disregarded the needs of all of us who live in the area, citing only ‘affordability’ as the reason we cannot have a new hospital. Yet they fail so badly that they run up a deficit of more than £50 million a year.

"If they are given the £350 million they are asking the Government for, they will squander it on piecemeal repairs and refurbishment at Watford."

The campaign group is going direct to the Department of Health to try to prove a new hospital is both financially feasible and preferable.

It has asked BDP Healthcare, which has won awards for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and is working on the redevelopment of a new Children’s Cancer Centre at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Although the campaigning group does not yet have a detailed capital cost, Mr Yearwood says it will be considerably less than the "ridiculous" sums the two NHS groups have bandied around, claiming an initial figure of £1 billion was later reduced to £700 to £750 million.

Campaigners say they must plans in to the government in July - is calling on people to help pay BDP and associated experts by crowdfunding. So far they have raised more than half of the £38,000 they need.

Mr Yearwood added: "It is very exciting to have reached this stage, to actually work with some of the best architects in the world. The comparison between what they are producing and what the trust want us to have, is unbelievable."

Andrew Smith, head of healthcare at BDP, said: "Hospitals can be stressful and intimidating places, but we know that better environments secure better health outcomes.

"Our designs pay close attention to clinical effectiveness and efficiency but they always prioritise people- patients, their visitors, and the staff who care for them."

A spokesman for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We are aware of support in some communities for a new emergency and planned care hospital on a new site. Our costings – which are derived using the methodology set out by HM Treasury – show that this option vastly exceeds the funding threshold.

“Campaigners have suggested other hospitals have been or can be built for less than the sum we have suggested for a new emergency and planned care hospital in west Herts. A thorough investigation would show that these other hospitals differ in type, location, funding source and date of completion ; all aspects that impact greatly on cost.

“Our position remains the same; we are closer than we have ever been to securing funding and the need for investment is urgent. We will continue to work on a compelling and realistic bid and we intend to submit this for consideration as part of the Government’s comprehensive spending review this year.”

Donations to West Herts 21st Century Hospital Solution can be made at, or into the group’s bank account: West Herts 21C Hospital Solution, Lloyd’s Bank, sort code 30-90-99 , account number 28468468.