Welcome to the Listening section of our website which provides information about our live engagement programmes.

West Hertfordshire service plans

Why we need to make changes

The NHS is facing increasing demands on its services as people live for longer, often coping a range of long term health issues. The Service needs to care for more people, more efficiently.

HCT’s nurses, doctors, therapists and other healthcare staff are working to provide more care outside of hospital and in many more cases, in patients’ own homes. Nobody likes to stay in hospital and there is evidence that people get better quicker if they receive good care at home. The risk of an unnecessary extended stay in hospital is particularly high for older people. The effect of a week’s bedrest equates to 10% loss in strength for people in their eighties, and for a person who can just about climb the stairs at home, get out of bed and stand up from the toilet, a 10% loss of strength may make the difference between dependence and independence. Looking after these people in their homes is often much better for them.

The financial challenges HCT faces are greater in the west of the county. Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group, the NHS organisation which plans and buys services for residents in places like St Albans, Hemel Hempstead, Watford and Potters Bar, has had to make particularly difficult decisions.

One of these decisions has been to reduce the amount of money it gives to HCT by about £1.6million a year. This came into effect in December 2016.

Because of this and other savings the Trust has to make, HCT is now looking at how it can reduce the costs of its services by £2.9million a year, bearing in mind that it wants to maintain and enhance the level of care it provides in people’s own homes.

Our plans

Sopwell and Langton Wards

We are planning to close two rehabilitation wards – Sopwell and Langton wards - at St Albans City Hospital. This will result in a reduction of 39 community hospital beds. On average only three in ten patients who are treated on these wards come from the St Albans areas, with the majority living in Watford and Hemel Hempstead.

West Hertfordshire NHS Hospitals Trust, which owns St Albans City Hospital, will continue to run all its current services from the site. These are not affected by our plans. The Hospital Trust intends to develop St Albans City Hospital to deliver more planned, elective services, focusing on orthopaedics, urology and diagnostic services as part of wider plans that are currently being worked on

These changes are in line with the aims of Your  Care, Your  Future  to increase the range of community services provided at St Albans City Hospital, while reducing in-patient care.

Enhancing our community teams, including the district nursing service

Getting patients home from hospital as quickly as possible is our aim. In recent years we have introduced local Rapid Response teams. These provide intensive support to patients with the aim of keeping them out of hospital and caring for them at home. The teams include nurses, therapists, healthcare assistants, paramedics and social workers. The St Albans team has recently been shortlisted for a national award, recognising the positive contribution they make to people’s lives. To help our communities stay healthy we will also work with other organisations, such as local voluntary groups and charities to make sure patients have access to a full range of support and care.

Working with West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust, we will launch a ‘discharge to assess’ scheme which will provide support for up to 50 people in their own homes at any one time after they have been in hospital.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust will also transfer control of Simpson ward in Hemel Hempstead to HCT which will be used to support patients get home as soon as they are ready. These arrangements will help to avoid delays to patients who are waiting to leave hospital.
HCT is also recruiting more healthcare assistants to bolster its community nursing and therapy teams. Healthcare assistants will be able to provide treatments, such as giving insulin injections in patients’ homes to free up our nurses’ time.

Our excellent staff currently working at Sopwell and Langton wards at St Albans City Hospital will be redeployed to enhance existing services and reduce the Trust’s reliance on agency staff.

Increasing our bed numbers in Watford

We are proposing to increase the number of beds at Langley House, an in-patient unit on St Albans Road in Watford, introducing 10 new beds. A large proportion of people who stay on our wards at St Albans City Hospital actually live in the Watford area. By increasing the number of beds in Watford we will be able to provide more care closer to home.

Langley House has two wards which provide packages of care from our multidisciplinary team that helps patients maximise their ability in recovering from, and adapting to the effects of their condition.

The financial savings

The proposed closure of Sopwell and Langton wards will save the Trust about £3.8million a year. The Trust will invest £900,000 on creating ten new beds at Langley House in Watford and creating additional healthcare assistant jobs to enhance our community services in west Hertfordshire. HCT is currently working with WHHT to agree funding for transfer of management of Simpson Ward.

HCT wants to be clear with local people about the drivers for its plans. These are to:

  • Make the needed £2.9million annual savings

  • Support our plans to provide more care outside of hospitals

  • Provide in-patient care closer to where the majority of patients in the west of the county live

Your views

We are keen to hear your thoughts about our plans. You can let us know what you think by completing our online survey here by 5pm on March 28th 2017.

Public Meetings:

Wednesday 8 March, 2pm to 3.30pm and 6pm to 7.30pm
South Hill Centre, Cemetery Hill, Hemel Hempstead, HP1 1JF

Tuesday 14 March, 2pm to 3.30pm or 6pm to 7.30pm
Jubilee Centre, Catherine Street, St Albans, AL3 5BU

Thursday 23 March, 2pm to 3.30pm or 6pm to 7.30pm
Holywell Community Centre, Chaffinch Lane, Watford, WD18 9QD