Hospital critical care unit reopens after steel frame to support roof installed

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

The critical care unit at a Norfolk hospital has reopened after a steel frame was installed to support its deteriorating roof.

A meeting held by the board of directors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn on Wednesday revealed the unit has since reopened after a critical incident was declared and some patients moved last month following fears its roof would collapse.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's lynn

QEH in King's Lynn. - Credit: QEH

In her report to the board ahead of the meeting, Chief executive Caroline Shaw said: "Our CCU was evacuated to ensure the safety of our patients and staff.

"Patients were moved from critical care to alternative areas of the hospital to continue their treatment while the essential repairs were carried out.

"We have taken immediate action by inserting props into the CCU roof to prevent any further degradation."

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kings LynnThe Chief Executive of the QEH Caroline Shaw

QEH chief executive Caroline Shaw - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The chief executive told the board at the meeting that the CCU has since reopened after repairs were carried out to resolve current issues around the roof, which involved putting in place a steel frame.


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She added: "We absolutely welcome the £20.6m to help us with repairs and upkeep of the roof.

"We continue to pursue our long-term plan for a new hospital in west Norfolk, and I want to reassure the public and members of staff that on a daily basis we are checking the organisation to ensure safety and appropriating any action we need to."

A prop holding up the roof at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

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

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Dr Ian Mack asked for clarity on whether the steps taken have eliminated the risk of any further beam collapse and the impact of the hospital's care of patients in that area.

The board was told the planks that were deemed faulty "beyond the tolerance level" have now been supported through steel work, but it was not the full fail safe system that the trust is pursuing.

The chief executive also spoke about her "delight" in the trust's Covid vaccination rollout and the opening of the Downham Market clinic, revealing that they had vaccinated more than 30,000 people so far.

Covid-19 cases are said to be continuing to reduce at the QEH as it moves past the peak of the second wave of the pandemic. At the hospital's peak, it had 220 Covid-19 positive inpatients which is now down to five on its wards.

Vice-chair Alan Brown also welcomed the news that 83pc of staff had been vaccinated and said there was around 800 staff that had not been, asking what the plan was to get them vaccinated.

Chief operating officer Denise Smith responded: "The vaccination is voluntary as are all vaccinations, we have had communications with staff and it would be great if everybody wanted to take it up, but as a trust we must respect the wishes of those staff if they choose not to.

Denise Smith, chief operating officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: Queen Elizabeth Hospit

Denise Smith, chief operating officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital - Credit: QEH

"There has been some support where staff have raised concerns either about efficacy or any particular concerns around the vaccination itself so we have got plans where we can have them have conversations with individuals.

"But the bottom line is it's a choice."

Mr Brown said: "I question whether it should be a choice actually, I think the public were told to stay home to protect the NHS. I think it's right that the NHS should now protect the public."

Mr Mack later told the board that the quality committee had looked at issues relating to the Covid pandemic and it's impact on the hospital in "considerable detail", which includes how infection control is addressed during the outbreak and the impact of Covid's ability to spread throughout patients.

Chairman Professor Steve Barnett said: "We are very welcoming of the significant downturn in the rates of infection now and numbers being hospitalised.

"That's excellent news, but also the tremendous progress that has been made in terms of the vaccination programme, which has also had a significant affect on absence rate in the trust but also the rate of infection across the local communities."

The EDP is running a campaign calling for a new hospital for west Norfolk.

To sign the petition visit change.org/p/matthew-hancock-mp-build-a-new-hospital-for-king-s-lynn

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