RECENT letters and e-mails to your newspaper have returned to the theme of building a new Hillingdon Hospital on the RAF Uxbridge site.
Sadly, the problem is not a lack of interest or determination on the part of the hospital trust board; for us, it's purely a matter of affordability.
For those readers who haven't read my earlier letters on the subject, the cost of rebuilding on the RAF site would be prohibitive because land would have to be purchased at market rates, whereas the current hospital site is wholly owned by the trust.
Also, the difference in land values between the two sites would rule out the possibility of selling the present site to fund the purchase of more land, which is very close to the Uxbridge town centre.
In addition, as we move to a period of greater austerity and reductions in public spending growth, it is no longer an option to rebuild the hospital as a single project.
The only real possibility is to replace existing, obsolete buildings on a phased basis, hopefully, by starting with a ward block containing 100 per cent single en-suite bedrooms, which will embody the lessons we are currently learning from our exciting Bevan Ward research project.
But, regretfully, no amount of wishful thinking can create a brand new hospital on the RAF Uxbridge site; it would simply be unaffordable because, even if we could raise the capital cost through loans, we would bankrupt the trust attempting to repay them.
We owe it to the taxpayer to spend public funds responsibly, and we owe it to our patients and staff to ensure that the Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust can continue to provide first class healthcare and secure employment in the very heart of the local area.
I'm sure this letter will not end the debate but I do feel it would enhance the ongoing dialogue if your readers had a more factual understanding of the issues.
I would therefore like to extend an invitation to the Gazette to come to the trust, to hear and to question us about our reasons why a total rebuild of Hillingdon Hospital, on the RAF Uxbridge site, is not feasible.
Chairman Hillingdon Hospital
NHS Trust Pield Heath Road
Editor's note: Mr Valentine's letter neatly draws a line under this issue and unless serious alternative proposals emerge we will not publish further letters on this topic, in order to make space for other issues. We will also be taking up Mr Valentine's invitation as soon as possible.