Health minister Jeremy Hunt says King’s Lynn hospital has a ‘great future’

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital along with local MP Henry Bellingham. With Catherine Morgan the Director of Nursing. ANL-150129-125214009
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital along with local MP Henry Bellingham. With Catherine Morgan the Director of Nursing. ANL-150129-125214009
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Health minister Jeremy Hunt says Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital “has a great future” but it won’t be receiving any extra funding.

Mr Hunt visited the Gayton Road hospital yesterday with West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham to see the progress being made since it was placed in special measures two years ago.

He was given a tour of A&E and some of the wards during the morning visit along with speaking to staff.

He said: “This hospital has a great future. I think people should be really encouraged when they see the motivation and commitment of the management and staff to make this an outstanding hospital. It has very bright days ahead.”

But the minister will not be pouring any extra funding into the hospital, which is forecast to be £14.9 million in the red this year.

Mr Hunt said: “We do give support to hospitals in deficit. Everyone has to live within their budgets and we expect all hospitals to have a plan in place to eliminate their deficit in time as we are trying to do with the country as a whole.”

But Mr Hunt was impressed with the changes made at the hospital since it was placed in special measures but said there was more progress to be made.

He said: “The staff are totally committed to turning things around. There has been some really significant improvements.

“It is a great local hospital for the people of Lynn and it is getting better all the time. It has the good leadership and really committed staff.”

Chairman Edward Libby and chief-executive Dorothy Hosein were pleased to show the minister the changes which have taken place.

But Mrs Hosein said that fundamental change was needed across the health system.

She said: “Money seems like a really quick solution but it is about change.

“We have an increasing elderly population and we have to deal with it properly community services, social services and GPs.”

Hospital workers were due to go out on strike today but this was suspended following an offer of a one per cent pay rise up to Band 8B and an extra £200 per year for lower paid staff.

Darren Barber, QEH’s unison branch secretary, said he had welcomed the visit to showcase improvements.

But he said the hospital was “under funded” and called for more work with clinical commissioning group.

Mr Barber also called for the special measures to be lifted.

He said; “I believe we are a recovering trust and better than we were 18 months ago.”

Mr Bellingham was also pleased with Mr Hunt’s visit.

He said: “The fact more nurses have been recruited is really significant, the morale of staff and determination is really coming through to me.

“Everyone is working incredibly hard to move forward. He (Mr Hunt) wants to keep services here.”

The hospital has recruited more nurses from the Philippines, which are due to start in the summer.

It has also taken on more Spanish nurses and recently held a successful recruitment day locally.