Health Matters – March 2022

Three Issues in this month’s Health Matters

  • Covid Update
  • Hospital Reconfiguration
  • New Webinar Series

1. Covid Update – Remember my quote last month – “Covid will do whatever it needs to do to prove the majority wrong! Well it’s certainly see-sawing around at the moment! Last month I reported how the BA2 variant was taking over from the BA1 – now we’re seeing a BA3 variant which could be contributing to the latest rise.

So here are the key figures in terms of daily cases for St Albans District:

  • Pre Omicron Peak – 770 cases per 100,00 in Jan 2021
  • Omicron BA1 Peak – 1956 on Dec 22
  • By Jan 16 that had dropped to 871
  • Omicron BA2 Peak – 1462 on Jan 28
  • By Feb 27 that had dropped to 329
  • Today (Mar 23) – it’s gone back up to 956

And we’re the second highest in Hertfordshire – Broxbourne beats our 821 with its rate of 896!! But in terms of Hospitalisations, we’re still doing well – last month I reported that the average was 70 – that’s not down to 53.

So whilst, from the start of the Omicron variant to its peak was around 3 weeks; it’s got a very long tail!

2. Hospital Reconfiguration  –  if it seems like it’s been going on for ages, the truth is it has! It all started with a “Strategic Review” back in 2016 but what we have is not a strategic plan but a tactical fix!

At the current stage the Trust is preparing what is called an Outline Business Case – and the plan is to split service delivery into three areas – Emergency and Specialist Care at Watford where the main development will be ( 77% of the money); Planned Surgery at St Albans and Planned Medical at Hemel Hempstead.

The new program is:

  • Enabling Works – 2022-24
  • Building starts – 2024
  • Completion – 2028

Initially the budget for the redevelopment was £350m; but the latest plans will come in at just over £1.4billion!

Of course there have been lots of discussions about whether the plan to split services over three sites is better than a having a new hospital; one of the benefits of the current plan is that it can be done in stages that will create benefits even if the whole plan is not approved in the end (a new hospital is much more of a big bang approach!). For example there is a new car park that is about to open in Watford – the end to cardiac hill!

If you want to see the latest program update go to

3. New Health Matters Webinars – I’ve mentioned a number of times on these podcasts the Health Matters webinars I have been doing; now, in a major new development, all future webinars are delivered as St Albans Podcast transmissions. They are completely free for Podcast listeners and are offered to Surgeries in our area as well; they take place on the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 to 7:30 pm with top London Consultants covering an interesting topic with lots of opportunities to ask questions.

For full details go to the Health Matters blog. The next webinar is on the Nose and is titled Sinus, Snoring & Septum! May is “Look After Your Gut”, and June is on HRT and the Menopause.

To see what we’re covering in the next webinar and register for it go to 

Alan Bellinger Written by:

Alan is a Trustee of Healthwatch Hertfordshire and very well engaged with all things related to Health & Social Care within the Community. After retirement from a successful career in the private sector (working in both training and Information Technology), Alan wanted to get involved in supporting local health issues and has an excellent understanding of what it takes to ensure a great patient experience, Alan has lived in St Albans for well over 65 years; he is a widower with two children and he especially enjoys the company of his five grandchildren – four of whom live in the local area.