Healthcare in Dacorum could have a new approach, following an outline agreement by major health partners and politicians to explore the potential for a new healthcare campus in the heart of Hemel Hempstead.
Dacorum Borough Council, in partnership with West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and the NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB), is going to explore the future viability of an Integrated Health Campus at Market Square
in Hemel Hempstead. The decision follows initial exploration work, which has highlighted the advantages to the healthcare offer for local people and the wider regeneration of the town centre.
Cllr Ron Tindall, Leader of the Council, said: “This is very early days, and a full study will be commissioned to develop detailed proposals for this potential campus. The evidence gathered so far suggests that the Market Square site has several
advantages. It is in an accessible location, in the heart of the town centre and the Council owns the land. Additionally, it provides a focal point as part of our wider ambitions for the transformation of the town centre. We believe that this would
be an exciting and highly beneficial development for the town and wider borough."
The benefits of locating an Integrated Health Campus in the town centre would help consolidate healthcare provision in a modern, purpose-built facility in a central location. It is a flat and well connected site, and the Water Gardens Car Park can provide
parking for the new facility. In turn, this will increase footfall into the town centre, supporting local businesses and economic recovery and will bring underused land back into use.
A new Health Campus will provide an opportunity to combine many different health and social care services in the heart of Hemel town centre, close to transport interchanges. This will make it more accessible than the current hospital site, which is on
a steep hill.
This is the first step in an ambitious plan for the Market Square site, which will require detailed engagement with multiple partners to develop an accurate understanding of the financial costs and benefits to deliver this scheme.
Jane Halpin, Chief Executive of NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB, said: “Initial investigations of the site show us it would be possible to bring a range of services together to better serve the local community. The next step is to explore further
how services currently on the Hemel Hempstead hospital site, as well as primary care and potentially mental health and community services, could be brought together into a purpose-built and accessible facility.
"Providing these frequently used and much-valued services together offers huge potential benefits for the local population and will address significant challenges related to the state of the existing estate. We all recognise that further work will be
needed to establish the best ways of achieving the potential of the site, but are collectively committed to taking this concept to the next stage.”
Matthew Coats, Chief Executive of West Hertfordshire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Great healthcare is built on services where partners work together for the benefit of patients. This is why the possibility of a new site in Hemel Hempstead
is so positive. The Trust remains committed to improving facilities in the town.”
Sir Mike Penning MP said: “I am delighted that at last we have positive news for healthcare in Hemel Hempstead. It is great news that the NHS is working together with the Council to seriously consider bringing new health services to Hemel Hempstead.
"The Market Square location is ideal - it is a level site with excellent public transport access to every part of the town. From the start of this endeavour, I have warned against creating false hope. Even though it is still in very early stages, there is every reason to be optimistic that this will go ahead. A good news healthcare story at long last.”