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.
QEH is 41 years old having been built to last only 30. The roof has major structural issues and 200 safety props are supporting it. Rather than patch it up, James is campaigning for a new QEH to deliver better healthcare for patients, staff, and visitors. He is working with the hospital 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 Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) planks in the roof. Nearly 80% of QEH’s estate was constructed using RAAC planks. Currently there are nearly 200 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.
You can show your support by signing the petition for a new hospital here
July 2021 - Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has launched the selection process for the next 8 new hospitals
The DHSC is inviting expressions of interests by September from NHS trusts in England who wish to be considered for inclusion in this next wave of the programme, identifying a further 8 new hospitals to deliver on the government's commitment to fund and build a total of 40 new hospitals by 2030. Together with 8 pre-existing schemes which have been included in the national programme, these 48 hospitals represent the biggest hospital building programme in a generation.
This is the first of a 2-stage selection process, starting with an ‘expression of interest’ phase which is open to all trusts. It will be followed by a more detailed process for long-listed schemes later in the year. The government aims to make a final decision in spring 2022. This process will also inform the ongoing pipeline of investment through this programme, subject to future funding settlements.
The government is committed to an open and robust selection process, which supports its ambitions to Build Back Better, including a focus on safety issues which was confirmed in Parliament in response to James raising the prop issues at QEH, through:
- better outcomes for people and smarter use of infrastructure – how the scheme supports the NHS Long Term plan aims, for example joined up, person centred and high-quality clinical care. This might include a brief description of the clinical and service model case for change and/or how the scheme would support service delivery and benefit the local population
- stronger and greener NHS buildings – how the scheme would support modern fit for purpose and efficient use of estates and increase service resilience. For instance, you might wish to describe how the scheme will address estates quality or safety issues (for example backlog maintenance, specifically critical infrastructure risk and impact on services), support COVID-19 recovery (for example ensuring greater flexibility and productivity in the use of space) improve efficiency of the estate and/or support net-zero carbon/ sustainability objectives
- fairer and more efficient use of resource – how would this scheme enable more efficient, levelled-up investment and support the local community. This might include how the scheme would support wider health and care service models (for example supporting services to be delivered through primary and community settings and/or better join up amongst services); and how this makes efficient use of assets and land. This could also include a description of any savings you foresee from investing in this way
June 2021 - James and MPs representing Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Lincolnshire have urged new Health Secretary to include QEH on new hospital programme
- Following Matt Hancock's resignation, seven MPs whose constituents use QEH have written to Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP to highlight the serious structural issues with more than 200 roof supports in place, including acrow props and timber supporting structures.
- While welcoming the recognition of the seriousness of the situation that has led to £20.6 million of capital funding for this year, they say that “simply propping up the roof does not represent value for money.” Rather, they set out the compelling case for QEH to be one of the new schemes and “to use the opportunity to transform the hospital to provide meet modern healthcare requirements and demand for future growth, to improve clinical deliver healthier outcomes in an area of deprivation, and harness digital technology to improve patient, staff, and visitor experience.”
- The MPs also highlight the “very strong local support for a hospital fit for the future. Thousands of people have signed a petition in support, the local borough and county councils are backing the case, as are key local institutions including the College of West Anglia where the new School of Nursing Studies in partnership with QEH opens early next year.”
june 2021 - Health Secretary visited QEH
- Matt Hancock accepted James' invitation and came to QEH see for himself the structural roof issues and he agreed that there needs to be a long term solution for the hospital.
- Matt Hancock met with senior leaders including the Chairman of the Trust, Professor Steve Barnett, and the Chief Executive, Caroline Shaw CBE and was updated on the progress QEH has made in delivering improved patient care as it continues on its journey of improvement. He was briefed on the proactive work the Trust is doing to improve the safety of the hospital following the welcome £20.6 million of capital investment for this year.
- During the visit Matt Hancock said:
"The hospital here is seriously in need of improvement. It is pretty significant when you go into a ward and there are wooden struts up holding the roof up. Now they are there to keep it safe and the team and the structural engineers assure me that is safe. But it clearly a short term solution not a long term solution.Clearly we need to sort this problem. I wanted to come and see it for myself. James Wild has been campaigning to make sure we get the long-term solution We're investing in the NHS. We've put in place the short-term action needed to keep this hospital safe. Let's work together on a long-term solution."
May 2021 - James urges government to make QEH one of the 8 new hospital schemes
- During the health debate on the Queen's Speech, James made the case for QEH to be selected as one of the additional 8 schemes as part of the new hospitals programme. He spoke about the need for urgent modernisation due to major structural issues with concrete planks in the roof and highlighted that there are currently 194 props in over 40 areas of the hospital.
- While welcoming the £20 million of new funding this year to deal with the most immediate issues, he said that the need was greater than propping up the roof. Rather than spend £550 million over the next decade to manage the risk, James praised QEH's plans to transform the hospital to meet modern healthcare requirements, deliver healthier lives, harness innovation and technology at better value for money.
- He set out the strong support from patients, staff, the local community, council leaders, and the expected increased demand as a result of housing growth. He urged the government to back the bid and to deliver the hospital that patients and staff deserve.
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 the best District General hospital
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.