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More props and 'unprecedented' pressure as bosses discuss life inside King's Lynn hospital

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Temporary props are continuing to be added to Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital to stop its ceiling from collapsing, as its staff experience “unprecedented” pressure.

The extent of the challenges facing the hospital has been outlined today after the town's MP James Wild, urged ministers to meet its "inevitable need" for a rebuild.

In recent weeks, the hospital installed two more temporary props with steel and wood supports – one in a corridor and one in a store room.

King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital (46893527)
King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital (46893527)

This brings the total number of props and temporary supports in place to 213 across 56 areas of the hospital, both clinical and non-clinical.

The moves followed a workshop in which the trust developed a shortlist of options for investment in the hospital, while a new communications group to engage with the public on the modernisation process has been established and held its first meeting.

A survey of the roof is now 79 per cent complete and an inspection was carried out in the buildings’s main theatres on the weekend of October 9-10 – which the trust said had resulted in “no immediate significant concerns”.

Vigilance over the building’s ongoing deterioration comes at a time of extreme pressure on the hospital’s resources however.

A report published by the trust said: “We continue to experience very significant operational pressures, with emergency department attends remaining 20% higher than pre-COVID and the hospital’s bed occupancy levels remaining extremely high, mirroring the position across the Norfolk and Waveney system and wider NHS.”

As of October 25, the trust was caring for 32 Covid-19 patients and is planning to open a new Covid ward in response to increasing numbers.

At the latest meeting of the hospital trust’s board of directors today, chairman Professor Steve Barnett called the current period “the most pressurised environment that any of us can ever remember, from our long time working in the NHS”, while medical director Dr Frankie Swords agreed that pressure was “unprecedented” and “extraordinary”.

Works on new facilities have meanwhile begun, using a £20.6 million emergency national capital investment given to the hospital by the government.

The project will see a new modular endoscopy unit built on the hospital’s estate along with the conversion of the Churchill ward into a new outpatient department and the creation of two decant wards.

Sarah Jones, director of strategic estates projects, said groundworks on the endoscopy unit had started and were “progressing well”, while the latter work on the wards was on track to be delivered by the end of March 2022.

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