New King’s Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital funding announcement due soon; former PM Liz Truss visits

By Alice Webster, acting chief executive

If you are a regular reader of this column, you will know that we have been waiting for a while to hear if QEH has been selected for the Government’s New Hospital Program and secured the much-needed funding for a new hospital.

James Wild, our local MP for North West Norfolk, continues to push Government officials and NHS leaders for a decision. They confirmed that a decision about a new QEH was expected by the end of the year. It was reassuring to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, restate the Government’s commitment to delivering the national New Hospital Program in the Autumn statement and to know we have the full support of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay , for our case.

Ward Round November 2022: QEH aerial view

We are confident that our case is extremely strong and compelling and demonstrates that we can deliver a new hospital by 2030 which is when our current hospital reaches the end of life due to RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete). We are ‘investment ready’ to deliver our ambition of a new hospital.

As we have said many times before, building a new QEH is the only long-term sustainable solution to the well-documented and significant challenges we face with our buildings. We have been very clear that short-term failsafes and emergency funding cannot extend the life of the hospital beyond 2030.

A new hospital will enable us to provide outstanding care in world-class facilities that meet the needs of our growing and aging population for many years to come. Consistent with our Clinical Strategy, we want to become a center of excellence for frailty and stroke, day surgery and regional anesthesia, research and innovation, and same day emergency care. We look forward to the announcement and continue to press the urgency of our case on all fronts.

In the meantime, installing steel and timber support props to maximize the safety of our buildings continues including in our main operating theaters. More recently, work has been completed on Castle Acre and Windsor Wards.

The closing and ‘decanting’ of wards and areas to install failsafes causes significant operational disruption – especially when the hospital continues to run close to 100% bed occupancy. I would like to thank our staff for their patience as this rolling program of work continues – it is much appreciated.

Public interest in our hospital remains high. In the last few weeks, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Look East have both looked at the challenges with our buildings with a focus on the detrimental impact the state of our buildings has on patient and staff experience, our three-year failsafe program and the urgency of securing funding for a new hospital.

Last Friday, we were delighted to welcome to the Trust the Rt Hon Liz Truss, our former Prime Minister and the local MP for South West Norfolk, who is well-versed in the challenges we face. She heard about the remedial work to maximize safety within RAAC areas and saw how much we have achieved with the capital investment we have secured to modernize our estate. Ms Truss also visited our new Endoscopy Unit, an example of where investment has set a precedent for what a new QEH could look like.

Councilor Jo Rust and the Save our QEH Hospital campaign group continue to demonstrate weekly for a new hospital and recently campaigned outside the Department of Health and Social Care – we are grateful for their unrelenting support.

I hope that the next time I write this column, I will be able to share good news about the future for our hospital. Visit www.qehkl.nhs.uk for the latest news in the meantime.



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