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This time we will have a Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn which is fit for the future

In his weekly column, MP James Wild discusses the new hospital plans...

As I waited with the chairman and chief executive to welcome Lord Markham, the Health Minister, to QEH I was reflecting that he was the fourth health minister to visit in three years. The difference was this was the first ministerial visit since the fantastic news QEH will get a new hospital by 2030.

It was encouraging the visit by the minister leading the £20billion new hospitals programme and his team of officials developing the Hospital 2.0 concept came only weeks after that announcement. Given the 2030 deadline, it is important to maintain momentum behind the new build – as Lord Markham said this is a hard stop and is important in driving progress.

Lord Markham visits King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Lord Markham visits King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital

While the programme is being led nationally to standardise designs, this is very much a collaborative approach with QEH and other hospitals. There will be local input into the design to reflect local needs and the visit was an opportunity for staff and patient groups to ask questions and share ideas about the new hospital. There was real excitement as people saw the plans developed so far.

So what’s the concept? Well, new hospitals will be built around standardised groups of 16 single occupancy ensuite rooms. Having single rooms will help infection control, reduce length of stay, while offering excellent clinical and digital observation and protecting patient privacy. However, the team recognised the importance of communal space for patients and the new hospital is designed to optimise patient flows and hugely improve the environment for staff and patients.

How big will the hospital be? That’s a question people understandably ask. The new hospitals team and QEH’s experts explained the priority is to make sure there is a model of care that is fit for the future. That means work on Hospital 2.0 is ongoing, looking at latest data including population growth, following which there will be a design brief setting the requirements for the size of the new hospital. One of the benefits of the design is the flexibility to add capacity.

By harnessing technology and modern care pathways this new hospital concept is expected to be up to 20 per cent more efficient, meaning people will stay for less time in hospital. Importantly, looking to the future means considering the latest health trends, more focus on prevention, use of community services and how care is delivered to people in their homes virtually. Getting community care is vital when over 100 beds at QEH are occupied by people who could be discharged.

QEH and other new hospitals will be built using modern methods of construction. This involves the offsite manufacture of major building components – as was used for the Endoscopy Unit at QEH and for the construction of the new Grange Hospital in Wales. The NHS estimates construction will be 25 per cent cheaper and 20 per cent faster compared to traditional approaches. This method is built to last – RAAC is a costly lesson in building hospitals with a short lifespan. This programme will ensure we have a hospital fit for the future that will last.

To find out more join one of QEH’s public events next week in Lynn, Wisbech, Hunstanton, and Downham Market. To register visit https://newqeh.org.uk

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