Parts of crumbling QEH will have to close if rebuild bid fails, bosses warn

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn
Accident and Emergency entrance

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings Lynn Accident and Emergency entrance - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Parts of a crumbling Norfolk hospital will have to be closed down if it is not rebuilt, bosses have warned.

The roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn is currently being held up by more than 1,500 props as it awaits news on whether it will be shortlisted for a full rebuild.

Hospital chiefs are expecting an announcement from the government on its bid in the coming days, with the site one of a number of hospitals built from reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) fast approaching the end of its lifespan.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, has 131 props keeping up its roof.

An example of one of the 131 props in place around the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, including its kitchen and Rudham ward. - Credit: QEH

Speaking at a meeting of Norfolk County Council's health overview scrutiny committee, the hospital's deputy chief executive Laura Skaife-Knight said it had deteriorated to the point that there is "no other solution" than to rebuild the hospital.

She said: "It is now recognised nationally that there are five RAAC hospitals not presently on the new hospital list, of which we are one and the realisation now is there is no other solution other than a new hospital.

"When people talk about a plan B, we have something that maximises the safety of the current hospital and an end-of-life date of 2030.

"The uniqueness of the QE is 80pc of our estate is affected by RAAC - it is not just a wing of the hospital you can sort, it affects the entire body of the hospital.

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"The Plan B is, quite frankly, we may have to close parts of the hospital, to be brutally honest."

She warned that it would cost £800m just to keep the doors of the hospital until 2030.

The hospital is awaiting approval of its business case to spend £90m over the next three years to "failsafe" the building for the next three years - but Ms Skaife-Knight said this would merely allow the hospital to "stand still" - and would not extend its life.

She added the state of the hospital had grown so dire that patients would prefer to sleep with the lights on due to anxiety caused by the props holding the roof up.

She said: "Earlier this week, one patient asked to move wards because they did not have confidence seeing props and others regularly ask nurses not to switch lights on because they are so scared of what might happen. This is not the experience we would want for any of our patients."