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Timeline of staff, politicians campaigners calling for Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn to be rebuilt in Government scheme





Politicians, campaigners and health bosses have been calling for a rebuild of Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for some time.

Despite numerous pledges from Government officials and NHS chiefs to make a decision - including promises to do so by the end of 2022 - no announcement has been made.

CEOs have come and gone, the Health Secretary line-up has changed, but the hospital remains the most propped-up in the country. More than 3,000 props are holding up its crumbling roof, with numerous concerns raised about the potential dangers for patients and staff.

One of the signs put up by the Save the QEH campaign group
One of the signs put up by the Save the QEH campaign group

Kris Johnston takes a look back at some of the key moments in the battle for a new hospital...

1980

The new Queen Elizabeth Hospital is built at Gayton Road, Lynn.

Campaigners have long been calling for a rebuild of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Campaigners have long been calling for a rebuild of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital

It is constructed using prefabricated sections and with a Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) plank flat roof structure.

These plank roofs were designed to last for 30 years.

Now, more than 40 years later, the hospital is described as being in a “desperate state” by staff.

February, 2015

South West Norfolk MP during a visit to the QEH this year, during which she lamented its' "sagging" ceilings
South West Norfolk MP during a visit to the QEH this year, during which she lamented its' "sagging" ceilings

Current Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, then the Health Secretary, says the hospital “has a great future” - but that it won’t be receiving any extra funding.

Forecasts suggest it will be £14.9million in the red throughout the coming year.

However, Mr Hunt says: “Everyone has to live within their budgets and we expect all hospitals to have a plan in place to eliminate their deficit in time as we are trying to do with the country as a whole.”

North West Norfolk MP has discussed the hospital in Parliament
North West Norfolk MP has discussed the hospital in Parliament

October 2018

NHS figures suggest that millions of pounds worth of urgent repairs are needed to prevent “catastrophic” failures at the QEH.

It is currently sitting on a backlog of £19million worth of repairs or replacements which should have been carried out on its buildings and equipment.

Emergency props holding up the roof on the QEH theatre corridor
Emergency props holding up the roof on the QEH theatre corridor

More than £700,000 was spent by the trust during the last financial year on measures to help clear the backlog. An application to borrow £22million to replace the roof was made earlier in the year.

November, 2019

CEO Caroline Shaw criticises what she claims is a lack of investment over decades in modernising and upgrading the hospital’s buildings.

This comes after it is named as one of seven across England which are potentially at risk of structural defects because of the materials used when it was built.

April, 2020

The Save the QEH campaign group holds its first weekly protest, calling for a new building.

Members have since come up with creative ways to put their message across, including cardboard cut-outs of politicians, Grinch dress-ups at Christmas and physically “kicking the can down the road”.

October 2, 2020

The site misses out on being named one of 40 new hospitals promised by the Government.

CEO Caroline Shaw vows to “fight on”, and insists there is a “compelling” redevelopment case despite the setback.

October 7, 2020

Hundreds of millions are needed either to rebuild the hospital or to maintain its present structures over the next decade, bosses warn.

The stark message was delivered to MPs in a letter seen by the Lynn News.

It says the estimated cost of rebuilding the hospital is around £679million.

November 2, 2021

North West Norfolk MP James Wild warns the House of Commons that the Government should fund a rebuild now, rather than having to find emergency money to hold up the “failing building”.

The QEH is currently bidding to be included among an additional list of eight hospitals earmarked for reconstruction.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Clarke, says he will have further discussions on the issue “if that would be useful”. A decision “is expected this autumn”.

September 22, 2022

As she prepares to depart as CEO, Caroline Shaw says she is “almost certain” funding will be announced for a new building soon.

She makes the comments on a visit to Save the QEH group to thank them for their continuous calls for action.

November 4, 2022

A decision on whether the QEH will be rebuilt is due before the end of the year, say NHS bosses.

North West Norfolk MP James Wild asks a public accounts committee: “The decisions on the eight new schemes were originally due in the spring, we’re now in November - when will a decision be made?”

Matthew Style, director general of NHS Policy and Performance Group, replies: “We expect decisions about the final eight to be announced later this year.”

March 3, 2023

In an exclusive interview with the Lynn News, South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss laments the QEH’s “sagging” ceilings and calls for a rebuild as soon as possible.

She calls on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to make an announcement in his Spring Budget - “if not before”.

She adds: “I think people are getting worried about it, so I urge the Chancellor to confirm it as soon as possible to give people the reassurance that the hospital is going to be sorted out.”

March 15, 2023

Despite many in West Norfolk expecting an announcement, the QEH receives no mention in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget.

Campaigners are made to wait yet again for any updates on the crumbling building.

What next?

The future of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital remains up in the air, with no further hints as to when an announcement on a rebuild will be made.

Alice Webster, CEO at the QEH tells the Lynn News: “Our wait for news on a new QEH hospital continues.

"We will work with the national New Hospital Programme team and hope to be able to bring positive news in the near future."



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