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King's Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital cracking concrete's national press helps North West Norfolk MP James Wild campaign for new build

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Regular readers will know that securing a new hospital for QEH is my top priority.

While they are familiar with the compelling case for QEH to be one of the government’s new hospital schemes, it was helpful to have coverage in the national press at the weekend to highlight that it is the most propped hospital in the country.

As the article underlined, the cracking concrete (RAAC) throughout the hospital means a new build is the only long-term solution. I took that article with me when I met the then Health Secretary earlier this week again to make the case for investment. He understood the serious situation RAAC poses and the very powerful case for QEH to be selected.

North West Norfolk MP James Wild (left) presses the case for a QEH rebuild to former Health Secretary Sajid Javid.
North West Norfolk MP James Wild (left) presses the case for a QEH rebuild to former Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

Now I will make that case to his successor Steve Barclay. As one of my constituency neighbours, and a former health minister, he is familiar with QEH as his constituents also use the hospital.

As I did with the health minister when he came to QEH a few weeks ago, I will express the intense frustration that I and people feel at delays in decisions and urge him to select QEH so that we can move to the next phase of this project. While the timing is not within my gift, I will keep pressing for that as soon as possible.

As I write, Covid cases are on the rise and as I’ve said previously the virus has not gone away. Vaccines continue to be the best response. It is particularly important that those in the most vulnerable groups who haven’t taken up the vaccine booster – or even their initial jabs – do so. Some 70 per cent of people in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk have had their third or booster jabs. If you have not yet done so then please make an appointment or attend one of the walk-in sites. And if you are in younger age groups then do take up the offer of a jab.

QEH entrance.
QEH entrance.

One of the remarkable features of the pandemic, which few predicted, was the limited impact on employment.

Of course, that owes much to the government’s furlough scheme that protected over 10,000 jobs locally and millions across the country.

Since the lifting of restrictions there has been a high number of job vacancies which is why in January the government set up an ambitious Way to Work scheme to help 500,000 people move into jobs.

Caroline Shaw, CBE, CEO of the QEH.
Caroline Shaw, CBE, CEO of the QEH.

In less than six months, that has been delivered successfully and in North West Norfolk around 600 people have been helped into work so far. This is due in large part to the efforts of work coaches and the employer adviser team in the JobCentre Plus who have worked with local employers to help match candidates to vacancies.

With record vacancies, there is now going to be a further focus on helping people aged 50 and over move into roles. Not everyone is able to work – but for those who can, having the security of an income is the best way to support themselves and their families in the face of rising bills.

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