King's Lynn hospital should be rebuilt 'in memory of Prince Philip', county council meeting told
A councillor has called for Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital to be rebuilt in memory of the Duke of Edinburgh as pressure for urgent action continues to grow.
The plea follows a protest outside the Gayton Road site to demand urgent funding to fix the QEH’s crumbling buildings, as well as a new hospital for the future.
And one of the event’s organisers says she fears the hospital’s very future is now at stake.
Speaking at a Norfolk County Council cabinet meeting today, which began with a minute’s silence in memory of Prince Philip, Independent member Alexandra Kemp urged the authority to “bang on the doors” of Downing Street to make the case for immediate action to fix the hospital’s problems.
She argued the government had made pledges to fund new hospitals in areas of lesser need than that in West Norfolk and the crisis facing the QEH made it more urgent than the plan to build new facilities over the next decade.
She said: “This is critical. If the government won’t help the people of West Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, will they do this in the memory of the late Duke of Edinburgh?
“He spent so much of his time at Sandringham. This would be a fitting memorial for him that the hospital is now rebuilt in his name.”
Bill Borrett, the cabinet member for public health, said the case to replace the QEH was being made, but also highlighted the inclusion of the James Paget Hospital at Gorleston among the list of sites for planned rebuilding over the next decades.
Answering a written question, he added: “I have called for government to provide the funds to sort out the problem and we will continue to support the Trust in their case for the QEH to be one of the further eight new or part new hospitals by 2030.”
The exchange came less than 24 hours after members of the Lynn and District Trades Council led a socially distanced protest outside the hospital to highlight the extent of the current crisis.
Papers presented to a meeting of the hospital’s board of directors last Wednesday revealed that 165 defective concrete planks have been identified in the building’s roof and 131 steel props are being used across the estate.
And Trades Council secretary Jo Rust said she feared the hospital will not get the support it needs.
She said: “I am concerned we are just going to be given a few million here, a few million there, which sounds like a lot of money, but is never enough to get it fully up and functioning in the way that our growing population needs.”
Asked whether she feared a lack of action could mean there wasn’t a hospital in Lynn in the future, she said: “That’s my concern. I want nothing more than to be proved wrong.
“We’ve been told they’ve got areas in the hospital that are closed to certain patients.
“If that means those clinicians that provide those services are unable to do those procedures and their skill level drops, they will have no choice to go elsewhere and it will just shrink.
“It’s automatic that if you can’t get the skills, you go elsewhere.
“The action should have started years ago, not now. It had a 25 year shelf life. It was built knowing that. We’ve seen it fall into disrepair.”
Mrs Rust added: “A new hospital isn’t going to be built overnight.
“We need the money to repair it so the staff can come to work confident they’re not going to have the challenge of something falling down on them as well as the challenge of looking after ill people.”