'Why is West Norfolk being left behind?' Minister warned King's Lynn hospital 'must be prioritised' for future funding
Senior officials heading some of West Norfolk's most prominent organisations have today joined forces to back the growing demands for a new hospital in Lynn.
Members of the West Norfolk Partnership Strategy Group have written to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to enforce the case for an urgent commitment to replace the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
They say the current use of almost 200 steel props to hold up the existing building's roof, shows it is "neither safe nor sound."
The release of the letter follows the launch of a new postcard campaign by the Lynn and District Trades Council last week to increase the pressure on Mr Hancock to act now.
The letter has been jointly signed by the chief executives of West Norfolk Council, the College of West Anglia, Freebridge Community Housing and Community Action Norfolk - Lorraine Gore, David Pomfret, Anita Jones and Jon Clemo - as well as on behalf of Norfolk County Council.
It described the current condition of the QEH as "shocking" and "appalling."
It goes on: "The current hospital was built as one of several ‘Best Buy MK2’ models. It was made of prefabricated components and had a working life of just 30 years.
"The QEH is one of the last remaining hospitals built in this way. Why is it not being prioritised for funding, when so many others have already been rebuilt?
"The latest information we have had is that there are almost 200 props in over 40 areas in the hospital supporting over 100 defective [roof] planks.
"Patients need to be evacuated to other areas before props can be put in place.
"Staff must then work around these props, with no permanent solution in place and a very visible reminder to staff and patients that the building is neither safe nor sound; causing real concern to many.
"These are unacceptable conditions in which to attempt to provide quality care and could cause unnecessary anxiety for patients when they are told of the purpose the props are serving."
The letter said the hospital had already been forced to spend more than £1 million of its own capital on roof repairs and claimed the recent allocation of just over £20 million was only half of what had been requested.
It also referred to the decision not to include the QEH in a list of 40 new hospitals promised by the government over the next decade last autumn.
It said: "This was not only disappointing but begs the question 'Why are the people of west Norfolk being left behind?'
"They deserve the improved clinical outcomes that can be delivered in 21st century facilities.
"We know there will be funding to build a further eight new or part-new hospitals by 2030 which is likely to be announced in the autumn.
"We cannot urge you strongly enough to ensure that the QEH is one of these eight.
"The current hospital building’s life expectancy is seriously limited, the population is growing and both the staff and the local community deserve a safe hospital that is fit for purpose and can meet the health demands of the local population.
"A modern, efficient hospital for west Norfolk is vital and should, or rather, must be prioritised for this funding."