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Protest over plans to move cancer operations from King’s Lynn to Norwich

PUBLISHED: 13:42 17 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:06 17 November 2018

Jo Rust, secretary of the King's Lynn Trades Council at the protest outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital  Picture: Chris Bishop

Jo Rust, secretary of the King's Lynn Trades Council at the protest outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Picture: Chris Bishop

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Drivers beeped their horns in support as protesters staged a demonstration outside a Norfolk Hospital.

They were calling for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn to abandon plans to send cancer patients to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for operations.

The proposals were revealed last week in a memo from senior management which was leaked to the EDP and other media.

It said the hospital had not recruited enough nurses to plug staffing gaps.

It added: With the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital moving their gastroenterology beds into the new Quadram Institute, an opportunity has arisen for us to run our elective cancer programme

A banner outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn  Picture: Chris BishopA banner outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

from the N&N over the winter period.

“Details are still being worked out but this would most likely involve our surgical teams travelling to perform operations at the N&N.

“We believe this is an opportunity we must put before our board to consider at its meeting this month. As a result, in the coming days we will be asking for your help in working out the finer details

of this paper to ensure the board fully understands the opportunities and risks.”

Protesters outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which could send cancer patients to Norwich for operations  Picture: Chris BishopProtesters outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which could send cancer patients to Norwich for operations Picture: Chris Bishop

King’s Lynn Trades Council called a demonstration outside the QEH today.

Its secretary Jo Rust said she feared the move would be “the start of a slippery slope” for the hospital.

“We’re very worried that moving cancer surgery and elective surgery is going to have a detrimental impact on our Queen Elizabeth Hospital,” she said. “We know that elective surgery is how the hospital makes money, it gets paid to do elective surgery so by moving it to the Norfolk and Norwich it’s removing the financial sustainability of our local hospital and putting it at risk.

“In addition to that we fear for the staff having to travel down the A47 every day through the dark winter mornings and evenings and it could potentially lead to staff leaving a job that they love and have spent years training for and that further risks the sustainability of our district local hospital.”

A placard at the protest outside the Queen Elizabeth Hosspital in King's Lynn  Picture: Chris BishopA placard at the protest outside the Queen Elizabeth Hosspital in King's Lynn Picture: Chris Bishop

Prior to today’s protest the hospital’s chief executive Jon Green said: “Our nurse staffing levels, especially when it comes to registered nurses, are lower than we had predicted and would wish for. Even with the employment of agency staff this is likely to preclude us from opening the number of beds we predict we require to run our full planned surgical programme while at the same time ensuring the safety and care of those needing our services in an emergency.”

The hospital was placed in special measures two months ago. Among its findings, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said there were not enough nursing staff to keep patients safe.

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