Covid cases down at Norfolk hospital, but concerns remain over roof


League of Friends shop at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn reopens - Credit: QEH

Just five Covid patients are being treated at a Norfolk hospital.

A report to the governing board at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, which meets today, also reveals more than 1,000 patients have been discharged after recovering from the coronavirus, while 495 have died.

Hospital staff have also delivered  28,574 doses of vaccine, of which 22,486 are first and 6,088 second doses. 

Caroline Shaw, the 500-bed QEH's chief executive, said at the peak of the pandemic, the hospital was treating 200 Covid patients on eight wards. The number of wards has been reduced to two, while staff sickness levels are also improving.

Ms Shaw added the hospital continued to urge vigilance in the weeks ahead, including people following the government's "hands, face and space" advice to reduce infections.

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

A risk register of things which could go wrong is reviewed at each board meeting

While the risk of Covid overwhelming the hospital has been downgraded from "likely" to "possible" as cases fall, the biggest risk the register highlights remains the state of the hospital roof, which represents "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".

The QEH missed last year as the government announced out funds for 40 new hospitals or rebuilds and must wait until November to find out whether it will be included on a list of eight further hospitals which will be approved for work to begin from 2025.

The EDP has launched a campaign for a rethink on funding, with almost 4,000 signing a petition calling for a new hospital.

On Thursday one senior staff member said: "We are literally seeing the building collapse around us on a daily basis now."

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The hospital was built using prefabricated components with an expected life of 30 years. It is still in service more than four decades later and concrete plans which support its roof are starting 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

A report to the hospital board, which will meet virtually, says some 7,881 planks make up the roof, of which 40pc have now been surveyed. It says so far 165 defective planks have been found and 131 steel props have been installed to support them.

The government has agreed to give the QEH £20m for repairs. Maintaining the roof for another decade is expected to cost £550m, while a new hospital would cost £650m.

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