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.
James 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.
Text of speech
Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.
I made my Maiden Speech in the last Queen’s Speech debate on health so it is a pleasure to speak in this one and I welcome the commitment to bring forward proposals for social care reform.
Covid has underlined long-standing issues facing the sector. In our recent report, the Public Accounts Committee highlighted that among the challenges that need to be addressed are funding, workforce, and the future accommodation model.
Importantly, the plan needs to focus on younger adults with learning and physical disabilities, and mental health issues, as well as older people.
It should also support the essential role that unpaid carers like those I’ve met in North West Norfolk play in looking after family and friends.
As well as tackling social care, the Queen’s Speech pledged to increase investment in the NHS and my constituents are particularly focused on the new hospital programme.
As one of the Best Buy hospitals the Queen Elizabeth in King’s Lynn was built with a life expectancy of 30 years.
Now in its 41st year, QEH is need of urgent modernisation due to major structural issues with concrete planks in the roof.
The expert committee on Structural Safety first issued an alert regarding these RAAC planks two years ago.
And currently there are 194 props across 43 areas of the hospital supporting the roof.
The Trust’s risk register has a Red rating for, and I quote, “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.”
Aside from the safety concerns which the Trust is managing, the props create a poor experience for patients and hard-working staff alike.
I welcome the recognition of the seriousness of the situation by the Secretary of State and ministers and the £20 million new funding QEH has received to help deal with the most immediate issues.
However, the need is greater and this is literally money to prop up the roof.
As the Secretary of State said last week “you get to a point with a piece of infrastructure where continuing to just keep propping it up gets to the end of its usefulness and you need something completely new.”
We have reached that point with QEH.
The Trust estimates it will cost £554 million over the next decade to just manage the risks – not improve the situation.
In contrast, it has developed a strong case for investment to transform the hospital to meet modern healthcare requirements, deliver healthier lives, harness innovation and technology at better value for money.
Other Best Buy hospitals are on the list of new hospitals and QEH has a compelling case to be one of the 8 additional schemes that the Prime Minister has committed to.
I’d be grateful if my HF can update the House on when the selection criteria for those schemes will be issued and I reiterate the invitation to my RHF the Secretary of State to come to QEH to see the situation for himself.
The need is obvious.
Patients and 4,000 staff need a hospital fit for purpose.
Thousands of people locally have signed a petition.
Local councils are supportive.
With significant housing growth planned demand fro healthcare is only increasing.
So I urge the government to back our bid to deliver the hospital that patients and staff deserve.