MP Jeremy Corbyn calls crumbling Queen Elizabeth Hospital 'a disgrace' at King's Lynn rally
MP and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke at a rally in The Walks yesterday, labelling the state of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, "a disgrace".
Unionists and supporters gathered in Lynn, to hear the politician speak along with four other speakers affiliated with the NHS and the QEH.
Yesterday was the 73rd anniversary of the NHS, a poignant day to speak on the issues facing the QEH and its staff.
Mr Corbyn said: "This is absurd that in the 21st century anyone should expect to work or be treated in a building held up by props. This is a disgraceful state of affairs. Say to the NHS or department of health- pull your finger out, put the money in, fix the roof or build a new hospital, we can't let this crazy situation go on any longer."
The MP made the crowd laugh by proposing that the "use of humour" was the key to success.
He said: "The only way you can beat these people is by humiliation and humour, how about we start a campaign for sponsoring a new prop? Prop up the NHS! A competition for better designed props? Hydraulic props? I mean God have mercy this is bonkers!"
Earlier this month former health secretary Matt Hancock visited the QEH, saying that the issue was "very serious and needs addressing."
Mr Corbyn criticised Mr Hancock, dubbing his handling of the NHS and the launch of the track and trace system "incompetent".
He said: "Our NHS is under threat. Underneath the badges government members wear they are selling off parts of the NHS, cutting it up, dicing it up and giving it away to the private sector. Any of you who work in the NHS know full well just how divisive the internal market is.
He defended the Union of the King's Lynn trade council, praising the efforts of unions as "part and parcel of democracy in society despite portrayals in the media."
Mr Corbyn was met with applause when he said: "Our NHS was founded by people with a vision, of a society of people that cared for each other. The principle of a society that cares for all."
GP Dr Pallavi Devulapalli, of Downham,gave an impassioned speech that touched on environmental issues, she highlighted the high rate of bed occupancy across the region's hospitals.
The GP said: "We are all in the middle of a climate crisis, we live on this fragile little blue planet.our government wants to open up a coal mine, we need our government to wake up and do the right thing and create green infrastructure, we are being very irresponsbile for our children and grandchildren. We are living as if we have somewhere else to go once we've trashed this place. I don't car what Elon Musk says, Mars is not an option for most of us.
"Norfolk County council in it's wisdom has decided to cut adult social services and children's services. Instead they found £50m to fund a new road, which will cut travel time on the A47, which is a three mile stretch of road, by 18 minutes. This illustrates their priorities.
"We are still in a pandemic and as a GP I have watched in horror over the last year, we have had one of the highest death rates of healthcare workers in the EU. 850 have died. This is mis-management and so wrong. I've had workers off sick in my practice and we kept going. The QEH has 435 beds, it had 85 per cent occupancy in the last quarter. That is really high. This hospital is crumbling in front of our eyes.
"There is a direct risk to patients and staff due to the roof's structure."
She said: "James Wild says he will continue to campaign for a new hospital" to which a member of the crowd responded with: "Where is he?"
Councillor Jo Rust, secretary of Lynn Trade Council, has been campaigning for the rebuild of the QEH in recent weeks, as reports reveal the roof is being held up by approximately 200 steel props.
This has led to patients from intensive care being hastily re-located out of concern for the state of the roof, as staff work in precarious conditions on a daily basis.
She said: "Patients are going to have to go to bed looking at props and wood above them. The NHS have worked their socks of during this pandemic but they are going to work in unsafe conditions. The hospital has yet to be fully inspected, and that is the danger. We are calling for the one per cent pay offer to be taken off the table, it's demeaning. We should demand at least 12 per cent for the NHS staff. They've been offered one per cent and having to go to work in an unsafe building and that is not what they deserve."
Gordon Taylor, from Unison, said it fully supported the QEH campaign and branded the current situation "unacceptable."
He said: "No promises have been made for a new hospital. The QEH in King's Lynn needs to be rebuilt and this community needs a new hospital.
"If we secure funding, work would not be done until 2025 so we're four years down the road before possibly starting to build a new hospital.
"This town and community needs a new hospital, not in 2025, not in two years or next year. It needs something to be done now."
People then joined Ms Rust by marching through the town centre brandishing large signs and some wearing t-shirts that said "born in the QEH".