Health News & updates



Where would you like a new


Hemel Hempstead OR Watford?

West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust has already

decided that Watford is the best location

and work is already underway expanding

the existing hospital into a much bigger unit.

Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning

disagrees saying the whole of West Herts

would benefit from a truly new hospital on

a clear site in the Hemel area to fulfil the

Government’s promise in 2019...for

instance good access for everyone,

cheaper, speedy construction and a

greener environment.

Mike Penning MP led a delegation

recently to meet with Health Secretary Sajid Javid to look into a decision to block a new hospital on a central site in west Herts. This announcement follows a meeting with an expert delegation highlighting issues with West Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s choice of Watford General for a redeveloped acute hospital.

“We will be sending Sajid a dossier of information detailing how public spending rules have been bent in making the case for Watford General. The dossier will also show the opportunities for building in a sustainable way on one of a number of potential greenfield sites which would offer good access and a great environment for everyone in west Hertfordshire. We hope he will ask the Department of Health and the trust to look again at their decision.” 

Sajid Javid MP, Health Secretary will now ask the Trust how they came to make their decision to rule out a new site in 2020.

Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor responded to the news that the Health Secretary is looking at the redevelopment plans, he said: "I am appalled by this decision, which ignores the incredibly thorough process that has already been undertaken by independent experts in this area. There have already been several investigations into viability and they have all reached the same conclusion – that the quickest and best way to improve health facilities for West Hertfordshire is to invest in new and improved hospital facilities at Watford General, St Albans City* and Hemel Hempstead* Hospitals.

“Local people have waited a very long time for these vital new facilities. This decision will only slow the process down, yet again, and could threaten this investment entirely. It is time to allow the Trust to get on with their plans and deliver better hospital facilities now for all of us.”

Philip Aylett, co-ordinator of the local New Hospital Campaign (NHC) who attended the meeting with Mike Penning said: “The trust refused, on very shaky evidence, to carry out a proper economic appraisal of any new clear site in 2020. The trust failed to follow public spending rules and the costs and timings of the project are now out of control."

A spokesperson for West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We’re very happy to share our rationale for ruling out a new site in favour of retaining and redeveloping our three hospitals. Our decision was driven by the need to deliver new and better buildings in the shortest timeframe possible."

*Expansion of St Albans Hospital and the existing Hemel Hospital are planned to be relatively small scale.

Photo below, courtesy Sir Mike Penning’s office

Successful Memory Lane Dementia Café appeals for more volunteers

Harpenden Town Council re-launched the “Memory Lane Café”, through a partnership with The Salvation Army and The Harpenden Trust’s Wellbeing Hub, in January this year and is delighted that so many people living with dementia have already benefitted. Indeed the café has been such a success that they are now appealing for more volunteers.

The Café, in Harpenden, is a place for anyone living with dementia and their loved ones to enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake in an understanding, relaxed environment. It is open every Monday (except bank holidays) from 2-3.30pm at The Salvation Army on Leyton Green in Harpenden.

The partnership is currently seeking more volunteers from the community who would be happy to give up a few hours each month to help with refreshments and offer friendly conversation, additionally there is also an opportunity to help with organisation of the café. If you can help, please contact Sarah Brimley at Harpenden Town Council by calling 01582 768278 or emailing

MARCH 2022.

Did you know that the UK has the highest death rate for lung conditions in western Europe with more than 100,000 people in the UK dying from conditions including asthma attacks, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia every year, according to data analysis by the charity Asthma and Lung UK.

Sarah Woolnough, the chief executive of Asthma and Lung UK, urged Government ministers to triple funding for respiratory research to identify new ways of diagnosing and treating people with lung conditions, tackle air pollution and ensure better diagnosis and care for everyone with a lung condition.

She added: “The state of lung health in the UK is shameful, with more than 100,000 people dying every year from lung conditions, the numbers of hospital admissions increasing, and air pollution causing people to develop lung conditions or making existing ones worse.

“It is a national scandal that people are more likely to die from a lung condition in the UK than almost anywhere in Europe. We need urgent action now. The pandemic has brought it to people’s attention that lung conditions can and do kill and how terrifying it can be to struggle with breathlessness.”

Luton Airport expansion will add considerably more air pollutants to the local atmosphere if their proposals are granted.


Feeling frazzled?

Frazzled Cafe (a space for people who

might be feeling “frazzled” to talk and

share their stories, while meeting

others in a safe, supportive - and non

judgemental - environment) is

launching in Harpenden. It’s an

initiative started by Ruby Wax,

which began as a drop in at M&S

cafes in London. Now, thanks to

funding from the Harpenden Trust,

we have been able to set one up

with fully trained and qualified

facilitators in Harpenden. 

The cafe sessions are on Mondays (from 7.30pm - 8.45pm at the Eric Morecambe Centre).  It takes place in the Foyer area.

Christina and Sarah (above right) are the two facilitators.

The link to sign up is


More drivers than ever are switching off for cleaner air. ARE YOU AN IDLER?

JULY 1st marked a momentous day for health and care in Hertfordshire and west Essex.

Welcome from our new organisation

We are delighted to introduce to you our new organisation, the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board (ICB).

We are the new NHS body responsible for planning and overseeing health services in Hertfordshire and the Harlow, Epping and Uttlesford districts of Essex. The ICB has taken over the functions of Herts Valleys, East and North Hertfordshire and West Essex Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which formally closed yesterday (30 June).

It's our organisation’s responsibility to make sure health services effectively meet everyone's needs to improve care and health, and take responsibility for spending NHS money wisely. You can learn more about what we do on our new website.

Today is also the launch of the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Partnership (ICP), which brings together Hertfordshire and Essex County Councils - the organisations responsible for social care in our area - with the NHS, and a range of public and voluntary sector organisations.

The work of the Essex and Hertfordshire Health and Wellbeing Boards, the insight of the ICP’s member organisations, and input from people and communities will inform a new integrated care strategy, which will be drawn together by the ICP later this year. This strategy will in turn shape the work of our ICB.

We are committed to working together to improve health and care for our 1.5 million residents in the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care System (ICS). You can read more about the Integrated Care System also on it's new website, where you'll also find more information about the Integrated Care Partnership.

To help mark this momentous day for health and care in Hertfordshire and west Essex, we're delighted to share this first e-newsletter with you, which you have received as a former subscriber to one of the three former clinical commissioning groups’ newsletters.

Through a weekly newsletter, you'll get the latest news from our organisation and our Integrated Care System. We'll let you know of opportunities to get involved as well as local initiatives you may be interested to hear more about, alongside campaigns from nearby and nationally. If you are on social media, follow our Facebook and Twitter accounts for daily posts and latest updates.

Jan. New integrated urgent care hub opens at St Albans Hospital.

The service, which is now open, is for patients from Harpenden, St Albans and the surrounding area who need same day urgent care for health concerns that need prompt attention but aren’t life threatening.

The hub will work alongside other NHS services to increase access to same day care and take pressure off busy emergency departments and GP practices.

The hub is not a walk-in facility. When patients call their GP or contact NHS 111 with an urgent health issue, they may be offered an appointment on the same day at the new Integrated Urgent Care Hub.

This new minor illness and injuries service

will offer appointments between 9am and 6pm,

seven days a week and will provide access to

diagnostic services, including mostly x-rays.

The service is being run by HUC, who also

provide the local NHS 111 service.

Jan. Shock NHS medicines wastage revealed.

Did you know that 25% of NHS carbon emissions  are from medicines,,,and at least 10% of prescriptions in primary care need not have been issued.

These statistics along with more astonishing facts have been confirmed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society following my visit to Manor Pharmacy in Harpenden who have displayed the huge amounts of returned medicines/prescriptions returned in just one week.

How can local residents help?

*Not to stockpile medicines, only

order repeats when you need then

and dispose of medicines you

don’t need appropriately, at your

local pharmacy.

*If patients find they are not taking

a particular medicines as

prescribed or are struggling with

side effects, in the first instance

then ask  community pharmacist

to provide help and advice. They

may be able to offer a medicines

review or arrange one with

the GP practice.

What can Pharmacies do?

*They need to make sure that patients are taking medicines they prescribe, so ensuring they keep up with regular medicine reviews and optimise patients’ treatment.

*They need to highlight medicines waste and look into ways of reusing patient-returned medicines and into environmentally friendly alternatives for single use plastics, such as medicines spoons and syringes, associated with medicines.

*Additionally pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in all sectors are responsible for medication reviews. These are an ideal opportunity to work with patients to reduce medicines waste by addressing concerns, improving compliance and de-prescribing medicines the patient no longer takes or are not appropriate.

How does wastage occur?

Evidence shows that the number of items dispensed by primary care providers has doubled in recent years, from an average of 10 per person in 1996 to around 20 per person by 2020. 

A recent report estimated that at least 10% of prescriptions in primary care need not have been issued... Adverse effects of medicines account for 6.5% of hospital admissions.

Every hospital admission and unnecessary prescription adds to the carbon footprint of the NHS, so we must work hard to prevent patient harm from medicines and associated waste in the system. The most environmentally friendly medicine is the one that is not required and not prescribed.

Repeat prescriptions make up an estimated 75% of all prescription items. Repeat prescription arrangements must ensure that patients’ requirements for medicines are checked at every issue. Medicines' waste occurs when every item on a repeat prescription list is automatically ordered but not all are needed. Patients should be encouraged to only order what they need.

Sustainable prescribing

Around 25% of NHS carbon emissions are from medicines.The majority of these emissions result from the manufacture, procurement, transport and use of medicines (20%), with the remaining 5% specifically from inhalers (3%) and anaesthetic gases (2%).

Evidence shows that the number of items dispensed by primary care providers has doubled in recent years, from an average of 10 per person in 1996 to around 20 per person by 2020.

NB. The RPS sustainability policy has a whole section on tackling medicines waste

Local Hertfordshire Charity Selected For BBC Lifeline Appeal

The AT Society is a small charity which has been based in Harpenden since it was founded over 30 years ago by a couple whose children suffered from ataxia telangiectasia (AT). It supports children,

young adults and their families whose lives have been affected by a diagnosis of AT, a rare degenerative condition for which there is no cure. They work actively to improve services and to support and fund medical research with the aim of finding a cure for this cruel condition.

Recently, following a rigorous selection procedure, the charity received the fantastic news that they had been chosen to appear on BBC One with a Lifeline Appeal. This is a monthly 10 minute programme

broadcast on BBC One highlighting the work of a charity and appealing for donations to support its


The AT Society selected three families from across the UK to demonstrate the importance of the work they do with people affected by this devastating,life-shortening condition, and Louise Minchin, TV presenter and journalist agreed to present the appeal on behalf of the charity.

Kay Atkins, Head of Services, has worked at the Harpenden office for over 20 years and lives in St Albans. Kay stars in the film talking expertly about AT and what the charity does to help - from diagnosis and beyond, through every stage of the condition.

"I Jumped at the chance to speak on behalf of the charity for the BBC appeal. It was a golden opportunity to tell people about the reality of living with AT and to raise funds and awareness" Kay Atkins

The appeal was aired on BBC On Sunday 29th Jan and again on BBC Two on Tuesday 31st. It is

now available on Iplayer:


Go to BBC IPlayer to watch our BBC Lifeline TV Appeal.

Louise Minchin (TV presenter & journalist) presents the appeal for the AT Society and three families affected by AT tell their stories.

BBC Lifeline

Lifeline is a monthly 10 minute programme broadcast on BBC One highlighting the work of a

charity and appealing for donations to support its activities. The appeal aims to provide an

opportunity for raising money and awareness to a variety of charities.

For further information about the AT Society please contact:


Tel: 01582 760 733


"She went from the first five years of her life being mobile, and now it's gone. Her mental health went down quite significantly, she felt like she shouldn't have friends, it was really heartbreaking" Rose's Mum .

BELOW: We were a wreck. We just couldn’t compute what was happening to our lovely family. It’s not what any parent wants for their child, to know that the life you have as a family, your time together is limited. " Brae's Mum

Below:"He became increasingly frustrated and told me he had an anger inside him. The difference we saw after only a few counselling sessions was amazing" George's Mum

Pictured L2R. Susie Norbury, Director of Operations, A T Society, Louise Minchin

Kay Atkins, Head of Services, AT Society. 

Feb 15. Would you like a cleaner, greener, healthier Harpenden?

HOW? By increasing access to cycling and walking initiatives, Herts County & SADC  will help to improve health and air quality, as well as reducing traffic congestion.”

They have produced a technical report identifying key cycling and walking routes in the District where the potential demand is greatest and where changes will most benefit residents. A number of improvements have been put forward and costed for 72 priority routes across the district.

A travel survey has shown there is a strong desire among residents for improved walking and cycling routes to support people who want to choose eco-friendly transport.

Councillor Phil Bibby, HCC’s Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said: “We want cycling and walking to be an easy and convenient choice for people using and visiting our city centres. Receiving feedback on our proposed cycling and walking plan for St Albans is key to helping develop a framework that provides a greener and safer way to travel.

LEARN MORE NOW. I have edited their 73 page report down to 16 pages with Harpenden related details here:

Cycling and Walking Infrastructure 2023 PDF.pdf

Ron Taylor. Editor


Give your views on the Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan --links below.

You can read the full technical report, study maps of the proposals, give your comments and respond to a short survey here:

The consultation started on 7 February and runs until Monday 20 March. You can also email comments to