Watford & Three Rivers

This page contains the latest updates on the development of health and social care in the Watford and Three Rivers area.

Health and wellbeing hub in South Oxhey

Our vision for West Hertfordshire includes a health and wellbeing hub in each locality.

In each hub, GP and other primary care services will be available alongside community and other health and care services. Each hub will be carefully designed with local clinicians and stakeholders so that it meets the needs of the local population.

Local clinicians and patients are currently working on plans for a hub located in South Oxhey. The video below outlines the vision for a health and wellbeing hub in South Oxhey from Dr Marie Anne Essam, GP in South Oxhey and Clinical Lead for Integration and Partnership at Herts Valleys CCG.

The hubs will underpin local networks of care across West Hertfordshire – these will be tailored to meet the needs of local people. Examples of services that might be provided include:

This means that local residents will be supported to keep well and look after themselves and that, when they do need health and care services, they are well co-ordinated and that patients don’t have to travel too far unless absolutely necessary.

The following diagram outlines what a local health and wellbeing hub in South Oxhey might look like (please click to enlarge).

We will keep you updated with how the plans for the hub in South Oxhey develop.

Acute options

The future of hospital services in West Hertfordshire is a priority for the local area and a key element of the vision for a healthier West Herts; however it is only one part of the solution - we must work to provide quality services in all settings. Currently there are many people being treated in hospitals across West Hertfordshire who could be cared for in the community, closer to where they live. We want to treat the right conditions in the right setting, ensuring people only have to travel to hospital if the care they need cannot be provided closer to home.

Below we have outlined how the three options shortlisted for future hospital care will affect the way patients in Watford and Three Rivers access hospital-based services.

Option 1: centralise acute care at a new hospital in a central location

The care provided would include emergency services, comprehensive women’s and maternity care, day surgery, cancer care, an outpatients department, diagnostics, children’s services and specialised care. The location for this option remains under discussion. It is assumed that transport links (including public transport) would need to be in place for this option to be viable.

Advantages
  • A new facility would be purpose built to meet the acute care needs of the local population
  • While all options are considered safe, this provides greater flexibility for clinicians as additional clinical back up, such as intensive care, is provided on the same site
  • Centralisation avoids spreading staff too thinly across multiple sites and it may be easier to attract and retain staff to a brand new facility
Considerations
  • Building a brand new hospital is the most expensive option
  • The largest single population catchment is in Watford so a disproportionate number of people would need to travel further to the hospital than do so currently
  • Existing staff may not be happy to relocate

Option 2: centralise acute care at Watford

This option means that all acute care would be provided at Watford. The care provided would include emergency services, comprehensive women’s and maternity care, day surgery, cancer care, an outpatients department, diagnostics, children’s services and specialised care. The buildings at Watford would be refurbished and existing services such as day case surgery would be moved from St Albans and Hemel Hempstead to the Watford site.

Advantages
  • While all options are considered safe, this provides greater flexibility for clinicians as additional clinical back up, such as intensive care, is provided on the same site
  • Centralisation avoids spreading staff too thinly across multiple sites
  • It’s slightly cheaper to provide services at one existing site than two or more
Considerations
  • People in some localities may have to travel further for some treatment. Older and disabled people, some of whom do not drive or have access to private transport, are adversely affected
  • Considerable building work would need to be carried out to ensure facilities are fit for purpose

Option 3: locating acute care at Watford and St Albans. This option provides the least amount of change.

Under this option, day surgery, complex diagnostics, cancer care and an outpatients department would be provided at St Albans. Services at Watford would include emergency services, comprehensive women’s and maternity care, an outpatients department, diagnostics, children’s services and specialised care.

Advantages
  • Maintains services in a relatively heavily populated area. For people living in St Albans & Harpenden there is no need to travel to Watford for day surgery
  • It’s easier and quicker than the other options to implement because there is the least amount to change
Considerations
  • There may be some inefficiencies with provision over more than one site although some people dispute this
  • This option reduces services in one locality (Dacorum) although other options reduce services in two localities
A similar option that provides services at Hemel Hempstead rather than in St Albans has been considered. There are a number of reasons why the St Albans site is preferred:
  • Many of the services already exist at St Albans
  • The site in Hemel is very hilly and therefore more complex and expensive to build on
  • There are plans for significant investment for health and care services in Hemel Hempstead, where a new health and care hub will be available in a central location for Dacorum residents.

No decisions about options for acute hospital care have been made. We will keep an open mind about the best solution. We welcome your feedback on all the options and any other potential scenarios you would like us to consider.

You can find out more information on how the options have been analysed, scored and shortlisted in the strategic outline case, available here.

Get involved

Thank you to everyone in Watford and Three Rivers who have already provided their views on the future of health and social care in the area. We are committed to engaging with local patients and stakeholders to help shape the future of local services. For more information on how you can get involved, go to this page.