Danger watch as hospital puts in 131 props to stop roof collapse

Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn

Dealing with critically-ill Covid patents has placed "immense pressure" on staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital - Credit: QEH

A Norfolk hospital has put in 131 props to stop its roof from collapsing as a crisis builds over its safety.

Staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's Lynn have told of their distress at seeing children playing near the roof supports on the paediatric ward.

Pressure is growing on the government to think again, after it left the QEH off the list of 40 hospitals to be rebuilt or built new in the coming years.

On Thursday, members of Norfolk's health overview and scrutiny committee heard the QEH was having to undergo daily observation to monitor the building’s structure. 

A critical incident was declared last week, which saw patients moved out of the critical care unit when bends were found in some of the concrete planks.

Caroline Shaw, QEH chief executive, told councillors they were “extremely disappointed” not to have been included among the hospitals promised development by the Conservative government in 2019. 

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

Caroline Shaw the QEH chief exec has insisted a new hospital is needed - Credit: Sonya Duncan

“There are huge issues around the infrastructure, particularly around the roof,” she said. “We are surveying the roof every day. 

“In the last 10 weeks, we have had to put 50 props up across the clinical services area.” 

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In total, the roof is now supported by 131 props, which have been installed in multiple wards, including paediatrics, intensive care and labour. 

Medical director Dr Frankie Swords said: “This is really challenging. It’s very upsetting for our staff to see children on the paediatric ward playing near a prop.” 

Ms Shaw said she had recently held a meeting with health minister Edward Argar, who promised money to help stabilise the roof and support moving patients to other wards. 

But this would only be a short-term solution, and Ms Shaw said they needed to make sure they were in the next group for hospital construction.  

Penny Carpenter, chairman of Norfolk County Council's children's services committee. Photo: Norfolk

Penny Carpenter called the conditions "appalling" - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

“We need to keep the pressure on with our MPs because we absolutely need a new hospital,” she said. 

Penny Carpenter, the chair of the committee, said: “It is wholly unacceptable in anyone’s language that you have to manage patients whilst avoiding props and managing the ceilings as well. 

“It is shocking in this day and age that you have to try and work under those conditions. It is appalling.”   

The committee agreed to lobby local MPs and the Department for Health and Social Care to support a hospital rebuild.  


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