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Winter 2015 Newsletter

In the last Harpenden Society News we promised a longer update on the efforts of the Red House Forum, the ginger group set up by The Society to encourage a refurbishment of the Harpenden Memorial Hospital site. There was an especially heartening meeting of the Forum on 27 July at which the NHS officers explained the progress being made and promised.

David Law, Chief Executive of the Herts Community NHS Trust, listed the background factors as follows:

  1. The faltering attractions of medicine as a career – 25 % of GPs will retire from local practices in the next five years and recruitment is not keeping pace with these losses.
  2. A joint approach to delivering care remains problematic in terms of the links among different providers, especially in cases where more than one condition is evident. Where a patient is suffering from three or more conditions, the cost rises exponentially as a person's needs increase.
  3. Even among the older population the numbers of patients is actually small. For example, the treatment of diabetes, which affects 1.5% of the population, accounts for about 10% of NHS expenditure.
  4. The chief motif of hospital development in the Victorian age and later was the treatment and cure of infectious diseases. The main issue today is dealing with long-term, often acute and incurable, conditions, for which the hospital mode is ill-suited.

The economic and allied political situation suggested that there would be over the next years a real decline in NHS funding. Cash is rising slightly but not keeping pace with demand.



In response to these factors, NHS were pioneering in the Watford area  the concept of 'case managers' to navigate the patient through the choppy waters of multi-agency provision, while 'health coaching', whereby patients were advised how to self-manage, was being developed. It was believed that self -management was both more effective and less expensive than institutional treatment.

In general, David Law concluded that the concept of a health and well being hub on the Harpenden Memorial Hospital site would be a distinctive marker of this all-round and progressive approach to health care.

Diane Brent of the Herts Community NHS Trust updated members on the progress made on the Red House project and inaugurated a useful discussion accordingly.

NHS officers indicated that at some mid-term point the Forum would be asked to assist with arrangements for making known the possibilities of the new venture with a view to asking the public for their suggestions and comments about how the local community might add to the utilisation of the refurbished/rebuilt Red House enterprise.

David Law and Diane Brent remained confident that the project could be delivered within an acceptable time span, perhaps as early as 2017. It all made for a heartening, crossed fingers, prospect.


The Red House Hospital

Red House Re-Visited