'Direct risk to life' - Steel frame being built to prop hospital roof


When it opened in the early 1980s, the QEH was expected to have a working life of 30 years - Credit: QEH

A steel frame is being installed to prop up part of a crumbling hospital.

Patients were evacuated from the critical care unit (CCU) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn on March 10 after fears its roof would collapse.

The hospital, which was built with an expected working life of 30 years in the late 1970s, is still in service more than four decades later and reinforced concrete planks used in its construction have started to fail.

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

In a report the QEH's board of directors, which meets on Wednesday, chief executive Caroline Shaw says: "We have taken immediate action by inserting props into the CCU roof to prevent any further degradation.

"We have also begun working with steel contractors to install a steel frame to resolve the current issues. The CCU will reopen once we have made the necessary repairs and carried out a thorough risk assessment."

A separate report to directors warns: "There is a direct risk to life and safety of patients, visitors and staff due to the potential of catastrophic failure of the roof structure due to structural deficiencies."

QEH chairman Prof Steve Barnett said surveys had revealed "more rapid deterioration of the hospital’s estate".

One member of staff last week described the situation as "Grenfell waiting to happen".

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

They said: ""We are literally seeing the building collapse around us on a daily basis now."

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The QEH has been given £20m for maintenance work by the government. But it was not included in the list of 40 hospitals which have been given the go-ahead for rebuilds under the government's Health Infrastructure Plan.

In a letter to hospital governors leaked to the BBC, its deputy chief executive Laura Scaife-Knight said: "More than short-term fixes are needed."

It is currently one of 16 from which eight will be given funding for improvements after the November spending review.

The EDP is campaigning for funding to be made available to begin the process now. Almost 5,000 people have singed a petition calling for a rebuild.  To add your name, go to https://tinyurl.com/3vxfuxx6.

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