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King's Lynn hospital has until September to make 'long-list' for rebuild

The starting gun has been officially fired today for Lynn's Queen Elizabeth's Hospital to get its bid in to be one of the eight across England to be chosen to be rebuilt.

The Department of Health has opened the bidding process to find the final eight hospitals to be added to the 40 already selected as part of the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, saying initial case must be made as soon as September when long-listing takes place.

A Back Our Bid, Build The Future, backed by the Lynn News, has seen the community rally behind the QEH in its bid to be rebuilt.

South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss, left, sees the problems in the QEH's Necton ward for herself (49225461)
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss, left, sees the problems in the QEH's Necton ward for herself (49225461)

Constructed 40 years ago with a 30-year lifespan on its Gaywood site, it currently has 200 props in wards and corridors holding up ceilings affected by 'concrete cancer' on the roof.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, visited the hospital last month shortly before his resignation to see the extent of the problem and he was followed this month by cabinet member and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss.

Jeremy Corbyn was a speaker at the start of this month at a rally in support of a new hospital held in Lynn.

Save the King's Lynn QEH Hospital Protester march through King's Lynn Town Centre led by Jo Rust (Local MP). (49225464)
Save the King's Lynn QEH Hospital Protester march through King's Lynn Town Centre led by Jo Rust (Local MP). (49225464)

The Government announced the bidding process today and said it is committed to helping the NHS build back better from Covid-19 and one of the centrepieces of that ambition will be delivering on the manifesto commitment of 40 new hospitals across England by 2030, backed by an initial £3.7 billion of investment.

These will provide better care for patients, an improved working environment for staff and help the NHS reach its net zero carbon ambition.

Currently, the national programme comprises eight pre-existing schemes and 40 new hospitals, totalling 48 hospitals.

Back Our Bid Build Our Future (49225469)
Back Our Bid Build Our Future (49225469)

In October 2020, the Government named 32 hospitals which will form part of the 40 new hospitals and is now calling for NHS trusts to submit their expressions of interest to be one of the final eight hospitals.

Today a new ‘Our NHS Buildings’ website has also launched. It will be the official home of the Government’s major NHS infrastructure projects across the country, including new hospital builds and upgrades.

The website will provide regular updates for patients and staff on the progress of local schemes, showcasing developments and milestones at each hospital build or upgrade location, with an interactive map.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our plans to deliver 40 new hospitals across the country by 2030 will help us build a better NHS and transform NHS services for local communities.

“The selection process for the further eight new schemes is a huge opportunity for more areas to benefit from the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, and I encourage trusts to apply.

“We will take forward the bold and ambitious plans to improve care, level up investment and prioritise sustainable design.”

Expressions of interest are invited by September from all mental health, community and acute NHS trusts who wish their plans to be considered. Later this year there will be a more detailed second stage process for long-listed schemes, with a final decision expected in spring 2022.

The selection process will prioritise plans for:

* Services which transform joined up care for people and provide an effective working environment for NHS staff, in line with the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan;

*Fair allocations of investment to level up across regions and provide value for money, with an emphasis on mental health trusts;

*Stronger and greener NHS buildings that make the most of modern methods of construction to support sustainable, greener and efficient design.

Health Minister Ed Argar said: “As we build back better from the pandemic, we are offering eight more trusts the chance to benefit from this historic undertaking. I look forward to seeing how our 40 new hospitals will apply lessons learned from Covid-19 and future-proof hospital design and construction.

“The investment in our NHS buildings will transform health services for millions of people for decades to come, by putting world-class patient care, staff wellbeing and sustainability first.”

All the new hospitals will benefit from being part of the government’s nationally-led programme under the Health Infrastructure Plan, ensuring the programme delivers value for money for use of the limited national public funding envelope available.

Experience will be shared across the schemes which will be built over the next decade, so they can be built as quickly as possible while prioritising standardisation, digital technology, sustainability and modern methods of construction.

Responding to the news, Caroline Shaw, QEH chief executive, said: “The trust’s long-term ambition is to bring a new hospital to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk so that the patients we serve across Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire have the local hospital they deserve and one that is fit for the future.

"The QEH is doing all it can to position the trust to be one of the further eight hospitals and will put forward its strongest possible application as part of this competitive exercise.

"In the meantime, the trust progresses the development of a Strategic Outline Case (SOC), which is on track for completion by the end of 2021.”

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