James is campaigning for Queen Elizabeth Hospital to be one of eight new hospitals the government has committed to delivering in the second half of the decade and which staff and patients across West Norfolk and beyond deserve. He is working with the Trust, other MPs, and local constituents.
The case for a new hospital or substantial rebuild
QEH serves 330,000 people across Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Cambridgeshire. The new leadership team has a five year strategy to take the hospital to a good and then, ultimately, an excellent rating.
QEH was one of a number of "Best Buy" hospital and this year marks the 41st year of a hospital only built to last 30 years. As with other “Best Buy” hospitals, including James Paget University hospital and West Suffolk, it urgently needs modernisation due to major structural issues with concrete planks (known as RAAC planks) in the roof. Nearly 80% of QEH’s estate was constructed using RAAC planks. Currently there are 131 props around the hospital supporting the roof. As well as the roof, the design and layout of the buildings do not meet current clinical pathways or requirements.
QEH estimates it will cost £554 million over the next decade to manage the risks associated with the existing roof and structural concrete plank issue. In contrast, it has developed a strong case for investment to transform the hospital to meet modern healthcare requirements at an estimated cost of £679 million which represents better value for money. The proposal uses Modern Methods of Construction to build better, greener, and faster with blocks constructed off site to reduce length of build and ultimately being more cost effective.
Following the temporary closure of the critical care unit in March 2021 due to concerns about the roof, James convened an urgent meeting with the Health Minister and QEH's Chairman and Chief Executive to review the short term issues and to make the case for a new hospital. Following the meeting the DHSC said that it would shortly announce criteria and process for the further eight schemes to be included in the new hospitals programme.
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March 2021 - QEH granted £20.6 million of new funding to help manage short term fixes and improvement to the roof and other areas
- Funding from the Department of Health and Social Care was confirmed during the meeting James organised with Edward Argar MP, Health Minister, and QEH's Chairman and Chief Executive. During the meeting, James and QEH set out the urgent issues facing the hospital with 131 props holding up the roof across many parts of the hospital. This new funding will help manage the short term issues. However, the position with the roof will continue to deteriorate and James highlighted that QEH estimates it will cost £554 million over the next decade to manage the risks associated with the existing roof and structural concrete plank issue. In contrast, he pointed out that a new build has an estimated cost of £679 million.
James said: "I know many people have been very concerned at the reports of props securing part of the roof in wards at QEH. When we met the minister he confirmed £20 million this year to help manage roof issues and I welcome this significant new capital funding. However, these issues will continue to deteriorate and we need a new hospital or substantial rebuild. I will continue to work with the Trust to develop the business case and to campaign for QEH to be one of the additional new hospitals the government has committed to."
February 2020 - Ministers encourage QEH to continue to develop the case for a new hospital
- Replying to letters from James Wild MP promoting the case for a new hospital, Health and Treasury ministers welcomed the fact that the QEH is working on plans and endorsed the focus on Modern Methods of Construction where construction takes place off site to reduce the length of the build, delivering a more cost effective approach.
- In his response to James’s letter, Edward Argar MP, Minister of State for Health underlined the importance of developing plans and working with the NHS on priorities: “Health Trusts seeking new facilities should continue developing their plans and priorities for local NHS infrastructure. They should also discuss their proposals with NHS England and NHS Improvement to help consider the priority of their schemes and whether they should be further developed at this time. The ‘Modern Methods of Construction’ approach that you set out is certainly along the lines that we wish to see our hospital building programme develop.”
- Rt Hon Steve Barclay, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “I was pleased to note that the Trust have been engaging with the Department of Health and Social Care on their plans and are working up a Strategic Outline Case for consideration. As the Prime Minister announced on 2 October 2020, a further 8 schemes will be invited to bid for future funding to deliver new hospitals by 2030. I would encourage the Trust to continue developing their plans and engaging with DHSC, as they will be responsible for assessing all bids before further funding decisions are made. “
Prime Minister’s Questions - James asked for investment in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital
- James highlighted that cracks in the physiotherapy gym roof had led to its closure and asked that given the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for building hospitals he would back the bid for a new hospital for QEH. The Prime Minister confirmed that the bid process for the remaining eight hospitals was being designed and that the Department of Health and Social Care is working with QEH. As these schemes will be delivered in the second half of the decade, the competition process will be announced in due course.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) has found improvements at the QEH following an inspection although more work is needed to ensure patients receive the care they should be able to expect.
In July 2019, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was rated ‘Inadequate’ by the CQC following an unannounced inspection. This resulted in the Trust remaining in ‘special measures’ following its entry in 2018. Following the 2019 CQC report there were 206 ‘must do’ and ‘should do’ actions. As a result, the Trust embarked on a programme of improvement to complete all actions set out by the CQC, which remains ongoing.
In line with the CQC inspection regime, the CQC returned to the Trust in September 2020 for two unannounced inspections of six core services. The CQC did not carry out a full inspection due to COVID-19 restrictions. This means that while the individual services that the CQC re-inspected have seen a change in ratings, the overall Trust rating will remain as ‘Inadequate’. However, the Trust is hopeful that in 2021 the CQC will return to complete a full inspection, resulting in a positive rating change that reflects the hard work of staff.
QEH was granted £1.5 million to fund five maintained projects as part of a wider £600 million investment in NHS hospitals
James presses case for QEH investment with the Chancellor
- During the Chancellor's statement on the 2020 Spending Review, James welcomed the focus on the NHS and infrastructure and raised the importance of investing in QEH. James asked the Chancellor to consider carefully QEH's compelling bid to be one of the additional eight hospitals by 2030 that the government has committed to on top of the 40 which had funding confirmed in the Spending Review.
James joins with other MPs to make the case for QEH to be one of the new 8 hospitals
- Following October's disappointing announcement, James wrote to the Health Secretary and Chwith the support of 7 MPs across Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Lincolnshire whose constituents use QEH urging ministers to include QEH as one of the additional eight new hospitals to be delivered by 2030.
October 2020 - Strong disappointment as QEH misses out on new hospital list
- In October, the government announced a list of 40 new hospitals and James was disappointed that QEH was not been added to the list announced in the previous phases of the health infrastructure programme. At the same time, the government announced plans to build a further 8 additional hospitals in addition to the 40 by 2030. QEH has put forward a strong case for investment.
September 2020 - Funding for new School of Nursing secured
- In September, £597,000 of capital funding was announced for a School of Nursing at the College of West Anglia. This was a bid James championed and asked the Prime Minister to support. It will create high quality training opportunities for West Norfolk with the college delivering Level 5 (foundation degree equivalent) Associate Nursing Apprenticeship which will allow the QEH to recruit more nursing staff locally.
August 2020 - QEH received an additional £1.9 million
- This additional funding was provided to support A&E capacity, put enhanced infection prevention and control measures in place, and make improvements to emergency care and urgent treatment services
July 2020 - James calls for QEH to be included in the Health Infrastructure Plan for new hospitals
- James pressed the Prime Minister on the case for including the QEH in the government's health infrastructure plan and said that this would be well deserved recognition for the dedication all the staff have shown through the Covid-19 pandemic. The Prime Minister noted the £9 million of capital funding had been provided last year and said further measures were under active consideration.
June 2020 - New 5 year strategy for QEH to become best District General hospitals
The strategy focuses on three main areas: Quality; Engagement; and Healthy Lives and setting out their ambitions for the near future.
James uses Maiden Speech to call for new capital investment in QEH
- James used his first speech as a MP to point out that this year marks the 40th anniversary of QEH but it was built with a life expectancy of 30 years, and its age is showing. He said he spied an opportunity not just to fix the roof, but to do more and called on ministers to consider carefully proposals from the trust for capital investment
James chooses QEH for his first official visit as a MP
- James' first official visit as a MP was to QEH and spent time with doctors, nurses, and vital support staff including the infection control team, security staff and others. The passion of staff who are proud of improvements they have delivered for their patients comes across clearly as does their desire to continue delivering better care. During the Covid-19 pandemic, QEH staff have shown incredible dedication in dealing with an unprecedented health crisis.
James will continue to press for investment into QEH to secure improvements that staff, patients, and the local community deserve.