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King's Lynn hospital bosses play down 'high risk of roof collapse' warning

Senior officials at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital have insisted there is no immediate cause for concern about its roof, despite documents warning of a "direct risk" to life.

Last month, hospital bosses warned the site needed major redevelopment after it was named among seven across England at risk of major structural defects.

And, yesterday, it was listed among what a national newspaper has described as a £6 billion national shortfall in hospital maintenance work.

Queen Elizabeth HospitalKing's Lynn (11734581)
Queen Elizabeth HospitalKing's Lynn (11734581)

The issue relates to the building's roof, which is thought to be at risk of a problem known as "concrete cancer" because of the materials used when it was built.

Officials have previously maintained that there is no imminent cause for alarm and that they expect to be able to continue to use the building until around 2035.

But a paper presented to the hospital's latest board meeting warned: "There is a direct risk to life and safety of patients, visitors and staff of the trust due to the high potential of catastrophic failure of the roof structure due to structural deficiencies."

The document assessed the risk of such a failure as "catastrophic" and "likely", with a target to reduce those indicators to "major" and "rare" respectively.

However, in a statement, QEH chief operating officer Denise Smith sought to play down the concerns.

She said: “We have a programme of planned maintenance to ensure the safety of our patients and staff and this programme has not identified any immediate causes of concern.

“While it is clear that minor fixes and repairs are no longer sufficient, we will continue to use this hospital for as long as is possible even as we prioritise developing a longer term plan for the redevelopment and modernisation of the whole site.

“The roof features on our Trust risk register, which is very closely monitored by the Trust Board.”

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