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Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn paid Hood & Woolf more than £900,000 while campaigning for new building

Bosses at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital spent more than £900,000 to enlist a PR company’s help while campaigning for a new building.

Staff and patients celebrated alongside politicians and members of the public in May this year after the Government confirmed West Norfolk would benefit from its New Hospital Programme.

The team at the QEH had put together a case for its £862million rebuild as its current site has at least 4,394 steel and timber support props in 56 areas of the hospital holding up its roof – making it the most propped-up in the country.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn paid more than £900,000 to the PR company
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn paid more than £900,000 to the PR company

It has now emerged that while doing so, the hospital paid public relations firm Hood & Woolf a total of £905,599 over a 17-month period. This is said to have helped deliver a “trust-wide strategy at a challenging time”.

A BBC article on this spending said North West Norfolk MP James Wild raised his concerns with the hospital chairman and chief executive, suggesting he would not “expect them to spend the same in the future”.

Alice Webster, CEO at the hospital’s foundation trust, said: “Hood and Woolf were contracted by our trust to provide specialist communications and engagement support from August 2021 to January 2023.

Alice Webster, the CEO of the hospital’s foundation trust
Alice Webster, the CEO of the hospital’s foundation trust

“This work included supporting the then executive team to deliver a trust-wide strategy at a challenging time. This mainly focused on our Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) programme which included the need for a new hospital in Lynn.

“Work delivered included internal communications, external communications, stakeholder and community engagement across three counties, event planning and delivering a website for the new hospital campaign.

“This activity could not be fulfilled by the limited trust communications and engagement team at the time due to senior vacancies and sickness. The contract with Hood and Woolf ended in January 2023 when two senior roles within the team were recruited to.”

Hood & Woolf is believed to have supported the QEH leaders to organise public and staff events, according to the BBC article.

The broadcaster was also told by the Department of Health and Social Care that while hospital trusts are responsible for managing their budgets, they are expected to “prioritise frontline care and demonstrate value for money for taxpayers in all areas”.

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