Consultation call on King's Lynn hospital cancer care move, as bosses admit decision could be delayed
A decision on plans to move surgery and cancer care out of Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital may be delayed as full details are still being worked out, bosses have said.
The comment follows a protest staged outside the hospital at the weekend against proposals to transfer work from the QEH to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital as a short-term measure.
Opponents have claimed the idea is a step towards the potential permanent downgrading of services at Lynn in the future.
And health chiefs have been urged to carry out a full public consultation on the plan, which critics fear could well be made permanent.
But QEH chief executive Jon Green has insisted several options, including the Norwich plan, will be put to executives, though that may not now be at the board’s next scheduled meeting next Tuesday.
He said: “Our only objective is to ensure the safe care of all our patients.
“Proposals may or may not be ready for consideration at the next board meeting at the end of this month as we work this through with our clinical teams. They will be considered as soon as practicably possible.”
But Lynn and District Trades Council secretary Jo Rust, who organised Saturday’s protest, has called on health bosses to consult the public on the issue.
In a letter published on social media, she claimed the lack of publicly known alternative options to the Norwich plan meant that was the only measure being considered.
She wrote: “This proposal will disadvantage QEH staff, patients of the QEH and the financial viability of the QEH.”
She added yesterday: “It’s going to further risk the future of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.”
Around 40 people took part in Saturday’s protest, which Mrs Rust said, despite the short notice of the event, demonstrated public anxiety about the hospital’s future.
She said: “The fact they turned out on a cold Saturday is clear evidence of their concern.”
Mr Green said nurse staffing levels were lower than had been predicted and was unlikely to allow the full surgical programme to be run, even if agency staff are employed.
He added: “We must always accept patients who urgently need our services and cannot close our doors to them.
“We are working with system partners to ensure patients who could be cared for in a more appropriate setting do not stay in hospital longer than necessary, but this alone is not enough.
“Our work with the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital is just one of the options which will be brought forward.
“We have said our plans for winter will develop and change as situations and opportunities arise.
“All proposals are assessed for their impact on patients and will not go ahead if not safe and the risk of taking action must always be assessed against the risk of doing nothing.”