Rebuild the QEH - Back our campaign for new Norfolk hospital

Matthew Hancock with the logo for the Rebuild the QEH campaign

The EDP is launching its Rebuild the QEH campaign to urge Matthew Hancock to back the building of a new hospital in King's Lynn. - Credit: Tolga Akmen/PA Wire/PA Images/Archant

Today we are launching a campaign to win West Norfolk the new hospital it is crying out for - and you can help increase the pressure in a few clicks online.

By signing our petition, you can add your voice to the many who are calling for the aging Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's Lynn to be replaced.

Parts of the roof have to be propped up to stop them from falling in at the QEH, which was built with an expected working life of 30 years in the late 1970s.

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

It is still soldiering on more than four decades later, but preventing the structure from collapsing is expected to cost around £550m over the next 10 years.

States of emergency have been declared this year, while critically-ill patients have had to be moved to other hospitals because of problems with the roof.

But the QEH was not included in a list of 40 hospitals being given funding for new builds or renovations, in two five-year improvement programmes announced by the government last year.

It is currently one of 16 waiting to see if they will be awarded one of eight new builds planned between 2030 - 2035, having missed out in HIP (Health Improvement Plan) one and two.

A briefing on the Health Improvement Plan, signed by health secretary Matt Hancock, says: "We are committing that HIP3 (2030-2035) projects will be chosen based on an open consultation to determine which new hospital projects should be prioritised. Areas that are not currently part of HIP1 and 2 should nevertheless continue developing their plans and priorities for local NHS infrastructure, and where exceptionally strong schemes come to light before HIP3, we will consider these in the context of available funding."

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

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government would review the rule allowing people to exercise outside with one person from another household 'if too many people keep breaking it'. - Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

In an open letter to Mr Hancock on the front page of today's EDP, editor David Powles said: 

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Dear Mr Hancock,

We're writing to you about the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, which was built with an expected working life of 30 years but is still in service four decades later.

Steel props have been installed to support the roof in 41 different areas where concrete planks are failing. Wards have had to be closed and patients moved elsewhere - including to other hospitals. The situation is dire and simply cannot be allowed to go on.

However, despite all of this, the QEH was not one of the 40 hospitals included in the first two phases of your Health Improvement Plan. It is currently one of 16 hospitals from which eight will be chosen for the third phase from 2030.

A briefing document which carries your signature says where "exceptionally strong schemes" come to light, they will be considered in the context of current funding. 

Between now and then, the roof will cost more than £500m to maintain.

And a risk assessment 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."  

Surely this adds up to an exceptionally strong case for a new hospital? The hospital's patients deserve it, its hard-working and proud staff deserve it and Norfolk deserves it.

We implore upon you to look into this as a matter of urgency.

Signed

David Powles

Editor-in-Chief

Eastern Daily Press

qeh roof

A crack in the ceiling where a concrete plank holding up the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn has distorted - Credit: submitted

The Department for Health and Social Care has said the QEH has been earmarked for £20m to address the "most immediate issues". 

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss's constituency is in the hospital's catchment area, which covers parts of Norfolk,  Cambridgeshire and South Lincolnshire which are home to 330,000 people.

South West Norfolk Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss Photo: UK Parliament

South West Norfolk Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss Photo: UK Parliament - Credit: UK Parliament

Ms Truss said: "The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is a vital facility in West Norfolk and very much a core feature in the community. I have raised directly with the Health Secretary the critical building issues at the hospital and welcome last week’s announcement of £20m funding to address these concerns.

"I am also working with colleagues from across Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire to make the case for a new build.’

Aerial view of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 1980. Picture: Archant Library

An aerial view of the newly-built Queen Elizabeth Hospital in 1980 - Credit: Archant Library

West Norfolk council leader Brian Long said: "The staff at the QEH do a marvellous job in a building which is past its sell-by date. Hospital design has changed and a modern facility would mean much better outcomes for the people of West Norfolk. The support across the community is 100pc."

Other hospitals in the region, including the James Paget at Gorleston and West Suffolk at Bury St Edmunds have already been allocated funding.

"King's Lynn is just as old, it's had just as hard a life," said Mr Long. "We now need buildings that are fit hospital procedures that are fit for the 21st Century."

To sign our petition, go online to https://tinyurl.com/7n7z5j67.

To back the campaign further, write to Mr Hancock at:

Matthew Hancock, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

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