King's Lynn hospital roof crisis 'beyond critical', councillor warns
New safety fears about the condition of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital show the "dire need" for major investment in the site, local politicians claimed yesterday.
It emerged on Wednesday night that a critical internal incident had been declared after problems were discovered with the roof in the hospital's critical care unit.
A "small number" of patients were moved from the area and sources stressed that critical care work was continuing.
But the incident, which is the second of its kind in just three months, has further fuelled calls for a funding commitment to rebuilding the hospital altogether.
Charles Joyce, leader of West Norfolk Council’s Labour group, said the situation was “beyond critical.”
He added; “Nurses and doctors are expected to produce miracles in what resembles battlefield conditions as the building collapses around them.
“The Government must properly fund a replacement for the only general hospital in more than 30 miles in any direction.”
The condition of the hospital building has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months after the QEH missed out on a place in the Government’s list of 40 planned new hospitals last October.
In December, the Back Our Bid, Build Our Future campaign, supported by the Lynn News, was launched to make the case for a full rebuild of the hospital, rather than ongoing maintenance and repairs.
Just days later, two wards had to be temporarily closed because of concerns about the roof.
And it was revealed in January that around 20 steel beams are being used to keep the structure in place across several different areas of the hospital.
North West Norfolk MP James Wild said: “This is a concerning development and I am in close contact with the hospital.
“This underlines the serious issues with the roof and the importance of further capital investment for the hospital which I continue to campaign for working with QEH.”
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has previously told Mr Wild in the House of Commons that officials in the Department for Health and Social Care are working with the QEH on the development issue.
And, last week, two letters from government ministers were released urging QEH bosses to continue building their case for redevelopment.
A bidding process for a secondary list of eight new hospitals for construction is being developed, but is not expected to start for some time.
And Independent borough councillor Jo Rust, who stood against Mr Wild for Labour at the 2019 general election, said there was now “no time to lose.”
She said: “The job of NHS staff is hard enough, but adding to that a crumbling building exacerbates those challenges.
“It’s been said that if the NHS had proper infrastructure - staff and buildings, then that would help. Well our hospital is in dire need. They deserve a fit for purpose building and a decent pay rise.
“There’s no time to lose. Give the staff something to really look forward to and get a new hospital agreed.”
Rob Colwell, chairman of the West Norfolk Liberal Democrats, added:” It is so worrying for patients and their families that in 2021 we have a hospital that could literally collapse.
“I hope the government “Back Our Bid and Build Our Future” for a new hospital serving West Norfolk. Why should the residents in the west of the county always come second?”