THANK you for covering an important local story – the future of Watford General Hospital and hospital services in west Hertfordshire.

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust is approaching a milestone in deciding how our hospital care will be provided. In early October, our board and the board of Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group – will agree a shortlist of options. This is a significant step towards our goal of providing new hospital buildings by 2025 (or very soon after).

All the proposed options for emergency and specialist care are at Watford, on the current hospital site or using adjacent land. We also remain committed to upgrading St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals where we provide mainly planned care.

There are no ‘greenfield’ sites on the proposed shortlist because these failed the key criteria of ‘deliverability’ in an independent site feasibility study (available on our website).

Our preferred option is for a major redevelopment on land next to the current hospital at Watford, where 90 per cent of the buildings will be new – a complete transformation. Construction is underway on the multi-storey car park, the new access road is working well and, at the size of ten football pitches, the site is big enough for our needs and has enough space for us to create new buildings before knocking down the old ones, thereby minimising disruption to patients.

Over the years potential sites, different proposals and changing funding offers have swallowed up precious time and money. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of our estates team, our buildings have continued their steady decline.

Our patients and our staff deserve so much more and we must seize this opportunity now to transform our hospital buildings, enhance the patient experience and create great places to work.

Before agreeing the shortlist, we are asking the communities we serve and our staff to tell us what they think by completing a short online survey. There is also a briefing note and both can be found on our website

The closing date to respond to the survey is midnight on Tuesday, September 15.

Christine Allen

Chief Executive, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust