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Independent borough councillor Jo Rust organises South Lynn Community Centre meeting to discuss King's Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital on May 27

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Community campaigners and residents will gather on Friday, May 27, 7.30pm, at South Lynn Community Centre to discuss the rising concerns about government finances and Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).

The meeting centres around the lack of an announcement revealing which of the 100 hospitals who submitted expressions of interest for a new building, have successfully made it onto the shortlist.

The meeting, organised by Independent borough councillor and Trades Council secretary, Jo Rust, has been called so that the public can ask questions and put forward suggestions about the issue.

Save the King's Lynn QEH protest march through Lynn town centre led by Jo Rust. MLNF-21MF07029
Save the King's Lynn QEH protest march through Lynn town centre led by Jo Rust. MLNF-21MF07029

Invited speakers are Cllr Alex Kemp, James Wild MP, Cllr Rob Colwell, Pallavi Devulapalli GP and a representative from one of the leading NHS trade unions – UNISON.

There will also be the option of attending the meeting via Zoom for those who are unable to attend in person.

The announcement of which hospitals had successfully made it to the next stage of the funding process was originally due to be made in autumn 2021. However it was delayed until December, then January 2022.

Save the Lynn QEH Hospital. Protesters march through Lynn town centre led by borough councillor Jo Rust. MLNF-21MF07031
Save the Lynn QEH Hospital. Protesters march through Lynn town centre led by borough councillor Jo Rust. MLNF-21MF07031

It was further pushed back until after the local elections which took place in Norwich. Campaigners who attended the rally in parliament and met with MPs James Wild and Duncan Baker, in April, were assured that the announcement would finally be made immediately after the local elections on May 3. However, at the time of writing, nothing had been heard.

The delay comes at a time when the government is facing serious issues: 120 fines issued over 'partygate', a cost of living crisis, and the fallout over Brexit and the Ireland Protocol. Fears are that all these will take the importance of the Lynn hospital, which has 1,528 support props, off the agenda.

If the announcement is made prior to the meeting, it will give the public the chance to participate in the community campaign and give ideas and suggestions for how the group can keep up the pressure and ensure the QEH makes it on to the final list.

Jo Rust said: “We’ve had so many questions from concerned residents about the QEH and the number of props stopping the roof falling in. We know that the government has taken their eye off the ball and our ailing NHS estate isn’t their priority. But it is ours.

“The cost of living crisis actually makes it even harder for the public if they are forced to go to Addenbrooke's or the Norfolk and Norwich for treatment. as that will mean even more costs that haven’t been budgeted for and can’t be afforded.

“We need a local hospital to serve our local population. We say no more delays, no more prevarication. Fully fund a new build now.”

Cllr Rob Colwell said: “The community are scared and want answers for the continuing delay. Their fear is understandable given the lack of trust in this government and a mounting list of broken promises.

“This community meeting will loudly show that the QEH and West Norfolk must not be forgotten. How many more emergency struts are needed before the urgency of the situation is realised by those in power?”

Gordon Taylor, UNISON rep said: “The staff at the QEH, have faced enormous pressures over the last two years of the pandemic.

“They continue to work in a hospital whose roof is being held up by in excess of 1,500 props. Unison believes this to be totally unacceptable, and asks that the government make a decision on a new hospital, not later this year, but now.”

Pallavi Devulapalli said: “Healthcare workers deserve a safe place of work as do patients. Weather events are predicted to get more extreme – a robust new-build hospital is essential to withstand all types of weather so that patients and staff feel secure.

“The government must find the money to do this ASAP. As taxpayers, we have no greater need than a future-proof hospital in West Norfolk. Any delay on making a decision could cost us dearly, in injuries or worse – a cost that none of us are prepared to pay.”

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