NW Norfolk MP James Wild: King's Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital and dentists are 2022 priorities
It is traditional to begin a new year by looking ahead to what you hope the next 12 months will bring.
Top of my list is hopefully good news for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and its selection as part of the new hospital programme.
I will continue to champion the compelling case for a new hospital in Westminster and QEH is expected to find out whether it has been selected for the next stage of the assessment process soon. Importantly, the £20.6 million provided by the Department of Health last year is modernising the hospital now. A new outpatient unit, endoscopy unit, and £3 million West Norfolk Eye Centre are due to have opened by spring.
In addition, QEH has been awarded £12 million to help tackle the backlog and help alleviate some of the winter pressures. This will fund a virtual ward so people can continue their recovery at home, expand the emergency department, and increase theatre capacity to treat an extra 100 patients weekly.
Another long-running issue I hope to see progress on is improving access to dentists locally this year following the procurement process the NHS has been running which I pressed for.
Many people have heard the term levelling up but aren’t sure what it means. It is essentially about spreading opportunity more equally so another big moment this year will be submitting the business cases for the £25 million Town Deal projects.
Last month the Board approved its first business case for the Youth and Retraining Pledge to increase skills and opportunities. A draft of the public realm improvements for a route from the railway station to the river has been considered with consultation this month on plans to increase footfall into Lynn and enhance key sites.
Other projects to be submitted by summer include a new multi-user community hub, the St. George’s Guildhall and creative hub and regeneration of the historic riverfront along with better transport links. These are in addition to the new School of Nursing Studies which will create more skilled training opportunities locally.
This is all part of levelling up as is my continuing focus on schools and improving educational outcomes.
Along with learning to live with Covid, jobs and growth are the priority. Our economy is set to grow faster than the rest of the G7 countries and there are more than 1 million vacancies. However, concerns about inflation, energy bills, and supply chains mean the government needs to keep further measures under review.
During the year I’ll look forward to visiting many more businesses, charities, schools, and voluntary organisations across North West Norfolk. If you are interested in being part of that programme then please get in touch.
Finally, thanks to huge efforts by the NHS and volunteers more than 90,000 people locally have had their booster jab. If you haven’t yet, then begin the year by getting the extra protection at a walk-in site or through the national booking service.
While life is full of uncertainties, let’s hope for a successful year!