Matt Hancock yet to reply to council plea to rebuild Norfolk hospital

Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COV

Health secretary Matt Hancock. - Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Council leaders have said a letter had already been sent to health secretary Matt Hancock calling for money to be found to rebuild the Queen Elizabeth Hospital - but he has yet to reply.

It comes after councillors at Norfolk County Council were accused of playing party politics over the future of the hospital - after failing to agree how to back a call for money to rebuild it at a full council meeting this week.

Labour's Brenda Jones put forward a motion calling for the council to recognise the hospital was no longer fit for purpose and needed rebuilding.

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

The motion also called for the council to welcome the EDP Rebuild the QEH campaign and for the authority to urge health secretary Matt Hancock to approve and fast track a new build.

But the Conservatives tabled an amendment, with Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, saying the original could be read as an "unfair slur" on those who work at the hospital, because it did not make clear it was the building which was not fit for purpose.

Mrs Jones withdrew the motion, which prompted Sandra Squire, leader of the Independent group to accuse both parties of "a political game".

But Andrew Proctor, leader of the council, said county councillor Penny Carpenter, the chairman of the health and overview scrutiny committee, sent letters to Mr Hancock and MPs at the end of March.

In the letter to Mr Hancock, Mrs Carpenter outlined the problems the hospital is facing, with 200 props in place holding up its roof.

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

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It stated that, in the space of a week, the trust had been forced to cancel 40 operations, due to the closure of its Intensive Care Unit.

It said propping up the building and moving patients to keep them safe from roof collapse had cost the trust £1m over the past year.

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Mrs Carpenter wrote: "We know that there will be funding to build a further eight new or part new hospitals by 2030 and that these will be announced in autumn 2021.

"We strongly urge that the QEH must be one of these eight."

Mr Proctor said: "It shows that everyone involved is promoting Norfolk’s interests and trying to get big issues resolved."

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