As health chiefs edge towards submitting a bid for £350 million investment in existing hospital sites, campaigners continued to push for a new single-site hospital.

On Thursday (June 6) a joint meeting of the Herts Valleys CCG and the West Herts Hospitals Trust selected the option as their ‘preferred way forward’.

But a number of written public submissions to the meeting highlight the failure of the meeting to consider plans for a new single site hospital.

Some question the consideration given to public opinion as part of the process and others the financial ‘limit’ on the bid.

St Albans resident Andrew Love, who believes plans for a new hospital should have been considered, says: “Simply discarding this option as unaffordable without full evaluation and identifying a specific site is irrational and suggests it was an option that both boards were never interested in.”

And Ron Glatter, who is a member of the New Hospital Campaign, repeats calls for a new hospital.

He wrote: “There can be no doubt that unless a new central hospital on a clear site is considered fully and fairly, which has not been done so far, your decision-making process will have no credibility and even more time and money will be wasted,” he said.

“The idea of redeveloping Watford General Hospital as the main emergency and specialist hospital for the longer term is so absurd that it beggars belief, and this view is shared by a large number of local residents as our opinion survey which is shortly to be published will demonstrate.”

He says that under the preferred option one – where the bulk of the investment would be at Watford General – Hemel Hempstead Hospital would become a ‘local health facility’ and, as such, ‘a hospital in name only’.

In her submission, Mary Arnott-Gee also said she was concerned by the board’s insistence that a new hospital development on a green site could not be considered.

“It has been shown that the economic benefits of such an option outweigh that of using the funds available to shore up poor facilities at the Watford site, which I do not consider fit for purpose,” she said.

She also says she is “appalled” by the consultation – suggesting the views of the public have been ignored.

Edie Glatter – who was a member of the stakeholder panel – says she is “extremely concerned” about the way the meetings on the proposals have been conducted, leading to a “lack of trust” in the whole process.

And she echoes calls for a new hospital to be considered.

“We have a golden opportunity, with a number of suitable sites available for the first time in many years, to build the A&E hospital for which we have waited so long and which could be within reach if there were people with the vision and courage to pursue it,” she says.

Graham Cartmell – a former member of the CCG’s patient and public involvement committee – suggests it was clear from the outset that the trust and the CCG were “fixed” on the Watford site.

“Every professional in buildings/construction I have met argues it makes far more sense to start afresh,” he said.

Mr Cartmel suggests a proposal of up to £500 million could well be accepted. And he suggests the board members should have a responsibility to prioritise what is best for the long term.

He also suggests ‘patient representatives’ in the process have been “hand-picked” – minimising the risk of the “wrong” outcome.

And he says:  “I have now attended over 15 public meetings specifically about the “hospital” issue across the whole HVCCG area.

“And, at every meeting, there has been overwhelming support for considering a new hospital on a new site and overwhelming incredulity about pouring more money into the Watford site.”

But Liberal Democrat councillor for Meriden Kareen Hastrick – who is also a county councillor – backs the plans to upgrade rather than focus on a completely newly rebuilt hospital.

In her written submission she suggests that Watford is “the most suitable option” for hospital services, pointing to the concentration of residents in the town and transport links.

"Upgrading must surely be more cost effective to that of a complete new build on a site which has yet to be identified,” she says.

“Indeed, upgrading would take less time and provide an ongoing improvement to hospital services available in West Herts than a complete new build and it has been made clear that better hospital facilities for the region, and nationally, are urgently required.”