Hospital campaigners set to take to King’s Lynn’s streets again despite North West Norfolk MP James Wild’s confidence in new build by 2030
Seven months have passed since the announcement that Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital would be included in the Government's programme for new builds.
But campaigners who stood outside the hospital every Wednesday for two years have decided to re-establish the group due to their fears that plans are already missing key deadlines.
Save the QEH – the campaign group formed in 2021 – says it wants to “shine a light on the facts” on funding for the new hospital and when the building work will be complete.
However, North West Norfolk MP James Wild, who says he has been working closely alongside the QEH, has said that he remains “confident” that a new hospital will be ready by 2030, within the allocated timeframe.
Mr Wild said: “The QEH has an end of life of 2030 which is why the Government has prioritised a new hospital as part of a £20billion programme.
“This is a major project with a cost estimated at around £1billion and I’m working very closely with QEH, the health minister, and new hospitals team to get approval for the plans and funding for the multi-storey car park (MSCP).
“Since this Government’s commitment to a new QEH, the Inspire Centre’s been demolished in preparation and the new hospitals team have visited several times and are talking to the trust about the new hospital design that will mean faster and more efficient construction.
“Patients and staff should be confident, as I am, that we will have a new hospital by 2030.”
On Friday at 4.30pm, campaigners will be outside the blue hoardings at the hospital wearing hard hats and carrying torches to demonstrate their belief that the boards are “hiding the lack of progress”.
This comes after a Government value watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), recently published a scathing report following an inquiry which said it has “no confidence” that the Government would deliver the new hospitals it promised.
However, one councillor has expressed their disappointment over the group reforming - saying that while it has good intentions, it is not being “helpful”.
Cllr Stuart Dark, the former leader of West Norfolk Council and the current leader of the Conservative opposition, said: “This is very disappointing. For a good number of years the council have worked hand in glove with the hospital. Everything we did was to help thehospital.
“It is very unfortunate that people are coming in and cutting across. They have got good intentions, but it is not helpful.”
However, a spokesperson from the King’s Lynn and District Trade Unions Council, which is also the lead campaign body driving the community action group, said: “Ever since this campaign started over two years ago, we’ve faced delays, prevarication, setbacks and political pauses.
“The local community were relieved and overjoyed when we heard we were to be included in the New Hospital Programme, but not one of us was overly confident that things would progress in the way that we needed, and we have been proved right.
“At an engagement event held by the QEH in August, we were told categorically that we had to have both phases on the MSCP and running by January 2025, in order to have the site for the new hospital cleared and ready for a January 2026 start.
“We were then told in a Modernising the QEH newsletter that the MSCP build wouldn’t start until mid-2024, leaving insufficient time for it to be completed by the deadline given.
“We’ve now had the release on the Commons Public Accounts report into the New Hospital Programme and it makes for grim reading.”