St Albans' MP has welcomed plans for investment at the city's hospital - "with some hesitation".

But the district council's new leader has welcomed a commitment to continue with the current three-hospital model and favouring Watford as "unalloyed good news".

West Herts Hospital Trust and the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group this week backed a proposal that would concentrate most of a £350 million investment bid on Watford General Hospital.

Under the plans - the first of four options - Watford would remain the A&E centre for West Herts, dismaying campaigners calling for a new hospital on a fresh site between Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans.

In the preferred option, St Albans City Hospital would be refurbished to become an enhanced surgical facility – for planned surgery and cancer care – with an additional two operating theatres and MRI and CT scanners. There will also be major refurbishment of theatres, inpatient accommodation and the development of a small high dependency unit.

And Hemel Hempstead Hospital offer medical services for conditions such as rheumatology, diabetes and respiratory conditions, while its Urgent Care Centre would move to a different building and land would be sold off for up to 250 homes.

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Health bosses likely to back Watford General Hospital revamp ahead of new hospital

The boards of both NHS groups will meet formally on July 11 to bid for the money from the Government.

Following this announcement, Conservative MP Anne Main - who has previously supported a new hospital - said: “With some hesitation, I do welcome this outcome. I want to see a brand-new hospital to replace Watford General Hospital but if the trust and the CCG are adamant that the money is not available for that, then this is at least a step in the right direction.

“I made it absolutely clear when I spoke to the trust and the CCG that St Albans City Hospital must be retained and significantly improved. I am pleased that, in supporting option one, we should get that investment into SACH.

“I don’t want to see any further delay in this process. We should take advantage of the £350 million available to us and press on with improving our healthcare services. Whilst this option is not perfect, it is a sensible compromise that will see major improvements to St Albans and Watford Hospital. I will continue to follow this issue closely as we await the final decision in July.”

Cllr Chris White, Liberal Democrat leader of St Albans City and District Council, said: “This is unalloyed good news for people in the St Albans District.

“I was invited to give a presentation to the joint board meeting of the trust and the CCG and I am delighted that the consensus which emerged was firmly in favour of Option One.

“This means that St Albans City Hospital will be retained and enhanced to include more elective surgery facilities. The hospitals in Watford and Hemel Hempstead will also see some significant improvement.

“We now hope this decision will meet the criteria set out by NHS England and that finally there will be some real investment in the hospital services in this part of the county.”