Candidates clash after King's Lynn hospital cash warning
Election candidates in West Norfolk have clashed after the boss of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital warned the site needs major modernisation.
Chief executive Caroline Shaw spoke out yesterday afternoon after the QEH was named among seven hospitals in England thought to be at risk of structural defects referred to as "concrete cancer."
And Rob Colwell, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the North West Norfolk constituency, said she was "brave" to make her concerns public.
He said last month's announcement of a £9 million loan to fund the upgrade of facilities was "merely papering over the cracks and delaying inevitable pain."
He added: "Years of neglect have caused real concern over the crumbling infrastructure in our precious health service.
"Now that we are aware of the severity of the problem we must start prioritising essential funding of our public services."
But his Conservative opponent, James Wild, said the government was putting more money into the NHS than ever before.
He highlighted the planned investment in a new diagnostic centre, which was revealed over the summer, plus a further £610,000 recently announced for digital prescriptions.
He said: "I am campaigning for QEH to get more investment in its buildings to support staff in delivering services the people of Norfolk deserve.
"I've already spoken to the Health Secretary to raise the need for additional funding and this will be a key priority if I am elected on December 12."
However, Labour's Jo Rust argued that Mrs Shaw's comments were an indictment of the record of former MP Sir Henry Bellingham, who announced he was standing down last week.
She said: "For the past 36 years, barring a four year gap, we have had the same MP. When the Conservative candidate is talking about a lack of investment, that's down to our MP.
"When James Wild says King's Lynn has good things going for it but it could be much more successful, he's saying something we all agree with.
"Our local MP didn't fight our corner to make the case for more investment in our area. The people of North West Norfolk deserve better."
The Green Party's Michael de Whalley said it wasn't too late to "futureproof" the QEH but agreed urgent and significant investment was needed.
He went on: "There is a distinct lack of proactive and long-term planning in the government’s funding and staffing requirements for the NHS, which must be addressed.
"The NHS, one of our country’s crowning achievements, simply cannot withstand the current levels of underfunding for much longer."
More by this authorAllister Webb