A longstanding issue in South West Hertfordshire is the quality of healthcare at our local hospitals. This was brought into sharp focus when West Hertfordshire Hospital Trust (‘WHHT’) was rated as ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission (the ‘CQC’) in 2015 and put into ‘special measures’.
In recent weeks, the CQC has published its findings following a further inspection in September. The good news is that of the 39 separate ratings, the number of categories described as ‘inadequate’ is sharply done, the number of categories rated as ‘good’ is sharply up. The overall rating has moved from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’. Not a moment for huge celebrations but evidence of steady improvement under a new management team. Clearly, this progress needs to be maintained.
The location of our local hospital has also become, once again, a topical issue. The various local health trusts recently looked at the options. This included the option of a new hospital near Junction 20 of the M25, as well as redeveloping the existing Watford site.
This is a complex issue. I have always been of the view that, if starting with a blank sheet of paper, a new hospital somewhere in the Langleys has a lot going for it.
The problem is that we do not start with a blank sheet of paper. The review concluded that this would be the more expensive option and would face a number of uncertainties. I do fear that we could spend many years looking at this option and, ultimately, find that it cannot be delivered.
On balance, I fear that the consequence of focussing on this option may be that we miss the opportunity to deliver real improvements on the existing Watford site where WHHT have well-developed plans.