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Queen Elizabeth Hospital bosses say they have explored ‘all options’ for location of King’s Lynn rebuild

The rebuild of Lynn’s crumbling hospital has come under fresh scrutiny amid concerns alternative sites have not been adequately investigated.

However, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Trust has said it explored “all options” for the new hospital before concluding rebuilding it at the existing location was the best option.

It says this will provide the “best value for money” and allow for the greatest chance of delivering the new hospital before the deadline of 2030 – when the current site is thought to become unsafe due to issues with Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn

This comes after West Norfolk Council leader Terry Parish said he wants “clear answers” on whether or not the QEH can be rebuilt on another site.

Alice Webster, CEO of the QEH Trust, said: “Several options were evaluated but an assessment revealed the most suitable choice for the new QEH was to remain on the existing site.

“This will enable us to capitalise on recent multimillion-pound investments in state-of-the-art facilities.

The Hardwick alternative site location. Picture: Stantec
The Hardwick alternative site location. Picture: Stantec

“Patients will also benefit from retaining essential medical expertise onsite throughout the construction process.

“Considering relocating the QEH to a different location would significantly delay the project, potentially jeopardising its completion by the 2030 deadline. This situation could potentially affect healthcare services in West Norfolk, while also leading to more costs for taxpayers.”

However, critics argue the Trust has failed to explore the alternatives adequately, with landowners not being approached to discuss the cost of the land.

Borough councillor Tom Ryves, who has called for more scrutiny of the project, said: “The QEH Trust have not discussed costs with land owners, so they have no idea what it will be.

“This makes it difficult to demonstrate value for money.

“This issue is probably the largest issue West Norfolk has ever faced.”

An FOI request has also revealed that the QEH Trust has not consulted with Norfolk County Council’s highways officers on the effect of traffic flow at other locations.

There are a number of potential alternative sites, one of which is in the Hardwick area of Lynn.

Hardwick Farming Partnership, which has offered a larger 148-acre site on land near Constitution Hill outside Lynn, has commissioned engineering firm Stantec to investigate this alternative.

The report, which has been circulated to the QEH Trust, borough council members and local MPs and parliamentary candidates, argues this site is in a more accessible location through being near the A10, A47 and A149, while it could also benefit from a new West Winch bypass road.

The existing location is limited to the A149, which Stantec says could lead to travel disruption during the rebuild.

Supporters of a different location say the benefits include saving £42million by not needing to build a new multi-storey car park, more space for expansion, and potentially a faster construction time due to the land being undeveloped.

James Bagge, who is planning on running against Liz Truss for her South West Norfolk seat, said: “The report into the alternative site has many persuasive arguments. I wish the hospital would be more transparent and better explain why it feels compelled to build on the existing site.

“I am no specialist but choosing a greenfield site takes away the complication of building next to the existing hospital and I understand it could be done quicker.”

The QEH Trust has argued that rebuilding the existing site is the only option to deliver the hospital by 2030.

However, the project has since faced delays, casting doubt as to whether it will be delivered by then.

Jo Rust, borough council cabinet member for people and communities, said: “We will be doing our residents a disservice if we do not explore other options.

“There has been delay after delay and I am no longer confident funding can be secured before the next general election.”

Neither Labour nor the Green Party have committed to funding the scheme if they gain power, which Cllr Rust fears puts more uncertainty on the delivery of the new hospital.

James Wild, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, said his priority remains ensuring a new hospital is built by 2030 and has supported the QEH Trust’s decision to rebuild it on-site.

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