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King's Lynn hospital braced for autumn visit by inspectors

Health inspectors are set to return to Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital this autumn to assess the progress made towards exiting special measures, its boss says.

The hospital was deemed inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) nearly two years ago and a follow-up assessment last summer claimed there had been little improvement since then.

But the commission’s inspection programme was suspended in the spring, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

QEH hospital logo (28521376)
QEH hospital logo (28521376)

And, in her report to this week’s meeting of the hospital’s board of directors, chief executive Caroline Shaw said preparing for a fresh examination was a priority.

She wrote: “It is likely that we will get a CQC visit this autumn.

“Ensuring we have done everything we can before they visit will also be a key focus in the coming months.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital chief executive Caroline Shaw and chairman Professor Steve Barnett (14198982)
Queen Elizabeth Hospital chief executive Caroline Shaw and chairman Professor Steve Barnett (14198982)

“But we are hopeful that the CQC will be able to see the improvements we have made to our hospital and that our commitment to this and doing the best for our patients and their families has not waived, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mrs Shaw also outlined the hospital’s winter preparations, in which ensuring a high take-up of the seasonal flu vaccine by staff is seen as an “imperative part” of planning.

And she revealed she is “hopeful” the trust will soon get a response from the government to its lobbying for a new hospital.

Last month, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said long-term solutions for the hospital, which marked its 40th anniversary last month, were under “active consideration.”

Mrs Shaw said: “A new hospital is vital for our patients and our community and confirmation that QEH will get this would be the greatest 40th birthday gift we could wish for.”

Meanwhile, the trust’s chairman, Professor Steve Barnett, will chair the inaugural meeting of a newly formed Norfolk and Waveney Hospitals Group next month.

His report to Tuesday’s meeting said the organisation was intended to promote closer collaboration between the QEH, the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston.

He added: “This will enable and facilitate joint decision-making and greater strategic alignment of the three organisations.

“In this context of increased alignment of service delivery, decision-making and future planning, it has been agreed that a single strategic framework across the three Trusts will be developed which sets out, in broad terms, how hospital services might develop in the years to come.

“This will be aligned to the wider system and will enable us to articulate a clear ‘system view’ of likely future configuration that informs and guides major capital developments.”

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