Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, left, with NW Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham and QEH staff during yesterday’s visit. Picture: Alan Miller.

Health Minister Jeremy Hunt visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King’s Lynn yesterday and gave assurances that it had a bright future.

Mr Hunt said the visit was to gauge progress the Gayton Road hospital had made since it went into special measures in 2013 after a critical inspection by the Care Quality Commission.

The minister said he was impressed with the measures which had been put in place. “I am absolutely delighted to see how they are turning things around.

The management is new, staff are motivated and committed and I think the people of King’s Lynn can be really proud of this fantastic hospital.

“I hope it will be out of special measures before too long,” he said. He added the CQC had raised specific concerns at the time which had included leadership and dementia care.

Mr Hunt said he had spoken to QEH staff who felt in the past, some of the concerns they had raised had been ignored.

But he said progress had been made and staff now felt they were being listened to.

“The CQC made its decision but I can see this is a team of people who are determined to turn things around.”

“This hospital has a great future. People should be really encouraged. There is commitment and motivation from the management and staff.

It has very bright days ahead,” he replied.

Finding enough staff has remained one of the issues faced by the hospital and Mr Hunt said he was pleased that the QEH had been recruiting nurses.

He added he was also pleased to see the hospital was responding to the situation of having to cope with more elderly patients as part of a national problem of caring for an aging population.

The hospital was given short notice of the minister’s visit which was only confirmed at 3pm on Wednesday.

Mr Hunt was accompanied by North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, and met with senior hospital managers before touring the accident and emergency department.

Mr Bellingham said: “What the minister said about special measures was incredibly important, the hospital is recruiting more nurses, staff are determined and it really has got a bright future.”

Edward Libbey, chairman of the QEH Foundation Trust, said: “I think the minister was very pleased with what he saw and recognised the challenges we face.”

Unison representative Darren Barber said his message to the minister had been that the hospital and the unions were “working tirelessly to support our staff and the patients of West Norfolk and King’s Lynn.”

He said the 12-hour planned strike action by some of the unions at the hospital, which was due to take place yesterday, had been cancelled in view of the minister’s latest pay offer, which was being considered by members.

According to figures up to January 18, 87.6 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at the A&E Department which had 920 people through the doors during that week.

The hospital remains on internal black alert, with a staff trying to free-up beds.