Two wards 'temporarily closed' as roof repairs carried out at King's Lynn hospital
Two wards at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital were temporarily closed yesterday to enable emergency roof repairs to be carried out, it has emerged.
The Lynn News understands that an internal incident alert remains in place today because of the issue, together with winter pressures and coronavirus-related issues.
And the town's MP says the incident highlights the need for a new hospital to be built.
Chief operating officer Denise Smith said today: “Following routine estates inspection work we identified two areas of the hospital roof that required repairs. These have been carried out.”
It is understood that the areas affected were the Denver and Elm wards and extra support was put in place after bends were discovered in some of the concrete planks used in the construction of the roof.
Both wards were closed while the repairs took place, but have since re-opened. Similar problems have also been observed in other parts of the hospital, including the physiotherapy gym which was recently closed and two other wards.
However, the combination of the repairs together with winter pressures and measures put in place to deal with coronavirus means the internal incident remains ongoing.
North West Norfolk MP James Wild, who raised the hospital's cause with Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week, said he was in regular touch with senior bosses on the roof issue.
He added: "It just underlines the importance of getting more investment into the hospital. That's why I raised it with the Prime Minister in the House of Commons."
The QEH missed out on the list of 40 hospitals that are due to see major investment over the next decade when it was announced by the Government in October.
But there is hope that the hospital could be included on a secondary list of eight sites. Mr Johnson said on Wednesday that departmental officials were working with the trust.
Mr Wild said: "I want to put us in prime position to be one of those eight hospitals that gets the funding when the bidding opens.
"There's a strong case. We've got the structural issue with the concrete ceiling that needs to be addressed and I'll keep making that case.
"I'll keep battling with the hospital and with the other MPs from across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Lincolnshire whose constituents also use it. It's very important for all those people that we get more funding into the QEH."
The latest concerns about the roof followed the announcement yesterday that the QEH had been allocated just over £1.5 million for critical maintenance work.
The projects covered by the investment are likely to include some roof repairs and minor estate refurbishment, boiler replacement, ventilation upgrades and new chillers.
Chris Benham, the hospital's director of finance and executive, said: "We are pleased to have received just over £1.5 million for much-needed upgrades to maintain key parts of our infrastructure.
"Considerable further investment is needed to modernise our 40-year-old hospital and we continue to lobby to bring a new hospital and attract considerable capital funding to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk so that we can ensure we have a hospital that is fit for the future, which is nothing less than our patients, local community and staff deserve.”
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss said: "This is very good news for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and will enable essential works as well as the continued delivery of routine procedures to take place.
"In the long-term I am working with fellow MPs to secure further investment at the hospital. The QEH has significant ambitions for the future including a collaboration with the College of West Anglia for a nursing school and improved working with the wider community."