MPs representing Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Lincolnshire have urged the new Health Secretary, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, to select QEH as one of the 8 new hospital schemes the government has committed to.
In a letter organised by James Wild MP, the seven MPs whose constituents use QEH 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.”
Commenting James Wild MP said:
“QEH has a compelling case to be one of the new hospital schemes and from raising this in Parliament and other campaigning activity so far there is recognition of the seriousness of the situation across government. With other MPs whose constituents are treated at QEH and the support of local community, now we are making that case to Sajid Javid to deliver the hospital that patients and staff need.”
In the letter the MPs call for a meeting to discuss a long-term solution for QEH and invite the Health Secretary to visit the hospital.
Text of the letter
“Dear Secretary of State,
New Hospital Programme – Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn serves 331,000 patients in our constituencies across Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Lincolnshire and employs 4,000 people. We are writing to urge you to select QEH as one of the additional eight new hospital schemes the government committed to delivering by 2030 in the Spending Review.
As one of the “Best Buy” hospitals, QEH opened in 1980 with a lifespan of 30 years. Now in its 41st year, the hospital needs urgent modernisation due to major structural issues with concrete planks known as Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) planks in the roof. The Standing Committee on Structural Safety first issued an alert regarding RAAC planks two years ago following the collapse of a school roof. Nearly 80% of QEH’s decaying and ageing estate was constructed using RAAC planks.
Currently there are 200 roof supports in place, including acrow props and timber supporting structures, in 45 areas around the hospital. Earlier this year the critical care unit had to close for two weeks due to cracks. This is a significant safety issue and the Trust’s risk register has a red rating for “a direct risk to life and safety of patients, visitors, and staff due to the potential of catastrophic failure of the roof structure due to structural deficiencies”. As well as the roof, the design and layout of the buildings do not meet current clinical pathways or requirements.
The need for a new hospital has been raised regularly in Parliament with the Prime Minister, your predecessor, and the Chancellor, and we welcome the recognition of the seriousness of the situation at QEH and the £20.6 million of capital funding provided this year. This will help deal with the most immediate issues. However, the Trust estimates that the business as usual costs of operating the deteriorating estate with the RAAC issues and risk will be £554 million over the next decade. Simply propping up the roof does not represent value for money.
Instead, QEH has a compelling case 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.
After being allocated £500,000 by NHS E&I, the Trust is developing a Strategic Outline Case for a new hospital. The pre-SOC phase currently underway involves developing proposals for a multi-phase redevelopment to make QEH’s case better value for money than the proposal it submitted previously. This will be based on Modern Methods of Construction to build back better, greener, and faster with blocks constructed off site to reduce length of build and ultimately being more cost effective.
In recent years the hospital has struggled with poor CQC ratings and a historic lack of investment. However, in December the CQC rated the Trust’s core services as good for caring. An essential element of the hospital’s strategy to be rated good overall and to be the best rural district general hospital for patient and staff experience is modernising the hospital estate and digital infrastructure.
There is 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. Within West Norfolk, and adjacent districts, there are plans for significant housing growth. It is therefore essential that there is sufficient healthcare provision in place to support the thousands of additional people moving to the area.
We are all in full support of the QEH’s bid to be one of the further eight new hospitals. As was recognised by the selection of other Best Buy hospitals in the 40 new schemes, the issues with RAAC planks will only continue to worsen. A failure to include QEH in the 8 additional schemes will inevitably lead to unplanned demand for capital investment in the future. We look forward to publication of the process and selection criteria.
We would welcome the opportunity to the discuss a long-term solution for QEH further with you and invite you to visit to West Norfolk to see the tremendous work being done by the staff in the hospital.
James Wild MP
Elizabeth Truss MP
Duncan Baker MP
Steve Barclay MP
Sir John Hayes MP
George Freeman MP
Jerome Mayhew MP