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The condition of QEH hospital has been branded “completely unacceptable"

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The condition of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been branded “completely unacceptable,” as 131 props hold up the roof in 41 different areas.

Members of Norfolk County Council's health overview and scrutiny committee heard on Thursday, that the QEH is having to undergo daily observation to monitor the building’s structure.

A critical incident was declared last week, which saw patients moved out of the critical care unit when bends were found in some of the concrete planks.

QEH General Views of the outside of the hospital (35608858)
QEH General Views of the outside of the hospital (35608858)

Caroline Shaw, the QEH chief executive, told councillors they were “extremely disappointed” not to have been included in the 40 new and rebuild hospitals promised by the conservative government in 2019.

“There are huge issues around the infrastructure, particularly around the roof,” she said.

“We are surveying the roof every day. In the last ten weeks, we have had to put 50 props up across the clinical services area.”

In total, the roof is now supported by 131 props, which been installed in multiple wards, including paediatrics, intensive care and labour.

QEH medical director Frankie Swords added: “This is really challenging, it’s very upsetting for our staff to see children on the paediatric ward playing near a prop.”

Ms Shaw said she had recently held a meeting with health minister Edward Argar, who promised money to help stabilise the roof and support decamping patients to other wards.

But this would only be a short-term solution, and Ms Shaw said they needed to make sure they were in the next group for hospital construction.

“We need to keep the pressure on with our MPs because we absolutely need a new hospital,” Ms Shaw said.

Penny Carpenter, the chair of the committee agreed, saying: “It is wholly unacceptable in anyone’s language that you have to manage patients whilst avoiding props and managing the ceilings as well.

“It is shocking in this day and age that you have to try and work under those conditions. It is appalling.”

The committee agreed to lobby local MPs and the Department for Health and Social Care to support a hospital rebuild.

The committee was also given positive news. They heard the latest QEH staff survey had shown improvements and the first student nurses at the hospital’s new school of nursing in Lynn are expected to be recruited towards the end of 2021.

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