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A lookback at Caroline Shaw's time at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn

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Caroline Shaw, who today announced her departure as chief executive of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital has found her time in charge as not without challenges.

Like the rest of the country, the hospital was tested to the limit by Covid-19.

More than 650 people with Covid have died on its wards. And in a ground-breaking response, it sent letters to 341 patients or their relatives apologising for the fact that they caught the virus while in the hospital.

Caroline Shaw CBE, Ward Round Jul 2022. (58207149)
Caroline Shaw CBE, Ward Round Jul 2022. (58207149)

Most devastating of all was the death of a member of staff, Chrissie Emmerson, died from Covid and her family raised concerns at the inquest about the fact that she was made to work, despite being deemed at high risk.

A new outpatients unit at the hospital has been named in her honour.

And she can look back on the opening of the maternity bereavement suite earlier this month as the culmination of a long-cherished project.

Official opening of The Butterfly Suite at The King's Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Pictured in centre Caroline Shaw (Chief Executive) QEH. (58207169)
Official opening of The Butterfly Suite at The King's Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Pictured in centre Caroline Shaw (Chief Executive) QEH. (58207169)

However, her time in charge will principally be remembered for the 1,500 props throughout the hospital holding up the RAAC roof of failing concrete.

Last Thursday was supposed to be the day that a decision was made on whether the QEH would be on the list of eight additional hospitals added to 40 already promised new buildings.

But the departure of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister has led to yet further delay.

Rob Colwell, county councillor for the Gaywood ward where the QEH is situated, said he was saddened to hear of her departure and wished her well.

But he added: "I am sure she will be most frustrated at the further Government delays to any decision for a rebuild of the hospital. Almost immediately as she was appointed the CEO role on a permanent basis in September 2019 she has fought hard for new hospital build for West Norfolk, first under the original alleged 40 hospitals and then again with the further eight proposed. She has also successfully led improvement changes and new units around the site for which West Norfolk are grateful.

"I worry about low morale at the hospital because of these continued delays and hope that our zombie government realise that good people are leaving the NHS, whilst ministers squabble internally and critical medical infrastructure is left vulnerable, there is clearly an absence of a credible government strategy.

"Patients and the community are justifiably scared for the future of the QEH. We are lucky to have such a strong management team at the QEH and their determination for a full hospital rebuild is very clear."

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