King’s Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital CEO Caroline Shaw thanks community for fantastic support
For this month’s column, I want to acknowledge the huge amount of fantastic support we have and continue to receive from our local community for a new Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
We are fortunate to have unanimous and unwavering support across the communities we serve in West Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire and it’s helping to make a real difference as we do all we can to secure the funding we so badly need to bring a new hospital to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk.
As I said last month, there is a growing realisation that building a new QEH is the only long-term solution to solving the significant and unique challenges we face. Our hospital is end of life and can no longer meet current or future forecast increases in demand.
Our poor physical estate impacts the safety and operational running of our hospital, the experience of our patients and staff, and recruitment and retention of our staff. These are all messages we continue to share both regionally and nationally so that the ‘lived experience’ of RAAC is truly understood.
We are hugely grateful to our local MPs who continue to press the urgent need for a new hospital. In March, James Wild MP for North West Norfolk led an excellent debate in Parliament about our case, and in the Queen’s Speech debate in May and in Department of Health and Social Care questions last week he called on the Government for a new QEH. James, alongside Duncan Baker MP for North Norfolk and Jerome Mayhew MP for Broadland, welcomed Councillor Jo Rust and the Save our QEH Hospital campaign group who led a protest to Westminster in March.
Before the Jubilee weekend we were delighted to welcome Health Minister Edward Argar MP to QEH. He saw first-hand the desperate state of our buildings and the challenges we have with RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerate Concrete which was used to build the hospital). He heard how there is no ‘plan B’ for QEH if we don’t get funding to build a new hospital and the very worst-case scenario is that parts of the hospital may have to close.
We are enormously grateful to our councillors who remain steadfast in their support. We recently welcomed Councillor Stuart Dark, Leader of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council and Councillor Alexandra Kemp, County Councillor for Clenchwarton and Lynn South to QEH. They viewed the state of our buildings, our work to maximise its safety with over 1,500 support props and heard about the impact it is having operationally and on the experience of patients and staff.
The Save our Hospital campaign group continues to be very active in promoting the urgent need for a new hospital. We are extremely thankful for their unrelenting and active support - weekly demonstrations, protests to Parliament and a recently well-attended community meeting. The latest initiative is to get as many signatures as possible on a campaign letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Follow them on Twitter @SaveOurQEH.
Our patients are also helping to raise awareness of the vital role QEH plays in the community too. Earlier this month BBC Look East interviewed Ben Russell after his son was rushed to our Emergency Department with breathing difficulties. He spoke eloquently about the importance of having a fully functioning hospital in King’s Lynn due to its rural location.
Our work continues for a new QEH. Our Strategic Outline Case for a new hospital is now complete and focuses on ensuring that QEH is best placed to continue to fulfil its role in the area while improving clinical outcomes and patient, visitor and staff experience in a hospital that is fit for many decades to come. It sets out how the development of our preferred new hospital scheme for a single-phase new build on our existing hospital site would be delivered. It has been fully supported by our Board of Directors, external stakeholders and partners across the area following extensive engagement. We are now ready to go, which puts us in an even stronger position as we await a national announcement.
Our new hospital scheme will help to ensure there is always a District General Hospital in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, delivering core services to our population. It would provide a once in a generation opportunity to transform and modernise healthcare, recognising historic under-investment in health in this part of the region. It would also enable QEH to become a centre of excellence for frailty and stroke, day surgery and regional anaesthesia, research and innovation, and same day emergency care.
We are confident we are doing all we can to secure funding and deliver a new hospital by our 2030 end of life deadline. We wait to find out if we have made the longlist for the Government’s eight further new hospital schemes. In the meantime, I would like to thank you all for your ongoing support - it is appreciated by us all at Team QEH and please be assured we remain very much in the running for a new hospital.
Visit www.qehkl.nhs.uk for more information about our work or please get in touch by emailing email@example.com.