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West Norfolk campaigners bring new hospital demand to Westminster

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The fight to secure a new hospital for West Norfolk has been taken right into the heart of Westminster today.

Activists have held a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament to reinforce their demand for funding of a rebuild of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

They then held a meeting with several of the region's MPs on College Green, where around 1,000 postcards calling for rebuild funding were handed over.

MPs and campaigners meet on Westminster's College Green to discuss the need for a new hospital (51277768)
MPs and campaigners meet on Westminster's College Green to discuss the need for a new hospital (51277768)

Lynn and District Trades Council secretary Jo Rust said the meeting had been "positive", but warned that they would be held to account if the QEH did not get funding this time around.

She said: "We had four MPs representing constituents served by the QEH come out and speak to us and show real understanding and appreciation of why we were there.

"I feel that if we don't get over the line, they have some very hard questions to answer from their constituents."

Activists outside Parliament (51277783)
Activists outside Parliament (51277783)

The talks took place on the same day that a Parliamentary committee told ministers to alter their response to an online petition demanding priority funding for rebuilding.

A statement from Parliament's Petitions Committee, which has been shared on social media, said: "They felt the response did not directly address the request of petition and have therefore written back to the Government to ask them to provide a revised response."

And Mrs Rust said she felt that was a significant intervention.

She said: "The response was almost ticking a box and the people who signed that petition wanted more.

"I think the postcards also sent a very clear message – a message they can't ignore.

"They know we were willing to travel up there today even though we couldn't see them in Parliament."

The group met four MPs including North West Norfolk's James Wild and the South Holland and Deepings representative, Sir John Hayes.

Sir John said he had offered to arrange a meeting with the current health secretary, Sajid Javid.

He said: "What is delivered there in quality and in quantity really matters.

"Having several MPs working together is very powerful because it allows us to make the bridge to the Secretary of State and to articulate the arguments that have been put to us.

"We have a strong voice and we have a united voice."

Mr Wild added: "We've got a compelling case which is backed by the strong local campaigners who have been here today, by the local council, by the county council and by the MPs whose constituents are served by the hospital.

"I'm confident we've got a very strong case and we're fighting hard for it to get through the first phase and into the second phase."

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