West Norfolk MP James Wild says he is ‘confident’ borough will have new hospital by 2030 to replace King’s Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital
West Norfolk’s Conservative MPs have both said they are working closely with ministers to ensure Lynn’s crumbling Queen Elizabeth Hospital is replaced on time.
It comes after a report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – which is a Government value watchdog – published a scathing report after an inquiry into the New Hospitals Programme (NHP) found that it had “no confidence” that the Government would deliver the new hospitals it promised.
Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital – which has previously been described as the most-propped hospital in the country due to the number of supports holding up its ceiling – is among the 32 that the report warns are “highly unlikely” to be rebuilt by 2030.
The report says: “Rebuilding the seven RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) hospitals by 2030 will be extremely challenging, yet there is a serious risk, if these projects are not accelerated and prioritised, that some hospitals may have to close before replacements are ready.”
West Norfolk councillors – including the authority’s leader Terry Parish – shared their concerns following the findings of the report, although leader of the Labour group Charles Joyce said “scaremongering by anyone helps no one”.
However, North West Norfolk MP James Wild has told the Lynn News that he does have confidence that the borough will have a new hospital by 2030.
“We know QEH has an end of life of 2030 so that is a hard stop by when the new hospital has to be open,” he said.
“The report calls for the RAAC hospitals to be prioritised which they rightly have been by the government as part of the £20 billion programme.
“This is a major project and I’m working closely with QEH, ministers, and the new hospitals team on the plans, including the multi-storey car park now the Inspire Centre has been demolished.
“I’m confident we’ll have a new hospital by 2030 that is the right size for West Norfolk and the wider area it serves.”
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss said she would be writing to the new Health Secretary Victoria Atkins to insist that regular updates on the project’s progress are provided.
“The Government has committed to replacing the QEH by 2030 and as a local MP I am determined to hold ministers to delivering the long-overdue new hospital on time,” she said.
“I am writing to the new Health Secretary to insist that the Department for Health and Social Care provide regular updates on progress to give local residents confidence that all the facilities they need will be adequately provided.”
Meanwhile, leader of the Conservative opposition on West Norfolk Council Stuart Dark said that he was assured that everyone involved in the programme appreciates the urgency of replacing the RAAC hospitals.
“The report generating this concern deals with the delivery of the overall hospital programme, an ambitious multi-billion pound programme covering the build of 40 plus hospitals and whether all could be achieved within timeframes and funding. It is not specific to the QEH,” he said.
“I am assured that all involved in the programme know the urgency of the RAAC hospitals that were specifically added to it due to their dire need and the fact that the QEH has an immovable date of 2030 for its replacement.
“As someone who worked closely and apolitically with our MP and others to help the hospital deliver its successful bid to be accepted into the programme, it is rather sad and frustrating to see those in [the recent Lynn News] article making unilateral comments of concern in public, that may cause anxiety and saying they are taking unilateral action.
“Previously local officials worked in lockstep with the QEH’s leadership and bid team on their bid, writing letters, giving briefings and lobbying decision makers at key times, with key messages agreed with the hospital to add to, not potentially cut across or negatively impact on their great work to get what we all want and need.
“This was a successful formula of a wider ‘team QEH’. I do hope those quoted take time to pause now and actually ask the hospital’s leadership what they think and want done to help them as the hospital’s leaders are clearly the ones with most knowledge and expertise regarding the process and where they feel things are.
“it is interesting to note from both the hospital CEO's comments and James Wild that they are comfortable with where the bid is currently at and that current slight delays to the building of the enabler multi-story car park following the demolishing of the building on the site will not delay the final build, to a deadline still several years off.”