Redevelopment plans for Watford General Hospital are now back on track after they were in effect “paused” earlier this month.

Health bosses at the West Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust have been told today that money to pay external advisors such as architects have been approved, just weeks after it emerged the Trust would “stand down” all external advisory support.

Now the trust has been promised the necessary funding to retain the external advisors helping with the redevelopment design and cost planning.

The government’s New Hospital Programme will now make ‘pathfinder schemes’ – of which Watford is one - a priority. The advisors must complete a detailed ‘cost benefit’ analysis of options for the hospitals managed by the trust.

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The economic analysis will form part of the outline business case (OBC) which will also include a detailed design and implementation plan for the trust’s preferred option for each hospital.

The OBC is set to be complete next year and will be submitted to the New Hospital Programme for approval and funding.

Back in October 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged £400m for the Watford redevelopment.

Trust bosses have since submitted an outline planning application to redevelop the Watford General site off Vicarage Road – including three landmark blocks of up to 18-storeys.


An early render on what a redeveloped Watford General Hospital could look like. Credit: West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust

An early render on what a redeveloped Watford General Hospital could look like. Credit: West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust


Deputy chief executive Helen Brown said the trust is confident that the cost benefit appraisal will “clearly demonstrate” that replacing the majority of buildings at Watford is “the best option”.

She said: “We will follow the process and provide a range of costed options but we feel very strongly that keeping our main clinical block would be a very poor use of public money.

“In the case of our hospitals in Hemel Hempstead and St Albans, we will be recommending a mixture of some new build and some refurbishment of current buildings on these two sites.”

The deputy chief executive added: “We are very happy to continue working at pace on this important programme after so many years of pursuing funding at every opportunity. It feels really good to keep the momentum going, including those aspects of our plans which require the input of external experts, such as architects and cost planners.”

She explained the hospital hopes to make services “slicker and quicker” through introducing more ‘one stop’ models of care and providing specialist input and assessment at the earliest stage possible.

“Delivering our care differently is a key focus for us as we begin to consider how our new and remodelled facilities will support our streamlined services,” she said.

Watford MP Dean Russell said: “I am delighted to hear that the redevelopment plans for new hospital buildings in Watford are very much on track.

"This is great news for our town and West Herts. It’s a great way to end the year and will be welcomed not only by residents, but the fantastic staff at Watford General.

"I will continue to champion Watford General to ensure it gets the world-class health facilities that it deserves. “

Cllr Asif Khan, chairman of Watford Labour, said: "I welcome the news that the plans are going forward.

"The government must not hesitate in funding the much needed redevelopment.

"Residents have waited far too long for it and needs to be built as a matter of urgency."