King's Lynn cancer care move decision delayed
Plans to transfer surgery and cancer care from Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital to Norwich will not be put to board members today after all.
QEH bosses say assessments of the proposals, which have been widely opposed since details of them were leaked earlier this month, are still continuing.
But union officials have again urged managers to drop the idea altogether.
In his report to today's board meeting, QEH chief executive Jon Green said that, despite efforts to recruit additional staff, a continuing shortage meant the hospital was unlikely to be able to properly staff its surgical programme this winter, even with the recruitment of agency cover.
He insisted the idea of moving services to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital was "just one of the options which, in due course, will be brought forward."
Some critics have suggested the lack of publicly known alternatives means no other solutions are being considered.
Mr Green added: "All proposals are assessed for their impact on patients and will not go ahead if not safe and the risk of taking action must always be assessed against the risk of doing nothing.
“It is because this proposal must go through a thorough checking process that it is not before our November Board.
“It will, however, come before Board as soon as is practicably possible.”
Officials from the trade union Unison, which described the plan as a "bodyblow" for West Norfolk when it was first revealed, say they welcome the delay so that the impact on patients and staff can be fully assessed.
But they remain concerned it will go ahead and have reiterated their calls for a re-think.
A spokesman said: "We don't think patients and staff should have to make a 40 mile trip."
A protest was also held against the idea last weekend, while North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham has also spoken out against the idea.
The proposal is being considered amid the continuing fall-out from the hospital being placed into special measures for a second time earlier this year.
Other documents published ahead of today's meeting show that three improvement project managers have now been appointed and a review of actions required under the hospital's quality improvement plan is underway.
Mr Green said: "It is going to take a great deal of time and the efforts of all at QEH to turn things around but we have begun to put the vital building block in place.
"As I have stated previously, we fully accept all the findings of the report.
"We have now recruited a full team to ensure the changes are not only delivered in a timely manner but also thoroughly embedded so we make sure we are making improvements that make a real difference to the long term sustainability of our hospital."