QEH chief executive Caroline Shaw. Picture: Ian Burt

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn is focusing on “restoration and recovery” from Covid, with more services set to be reinstated shortly, board members heard this week.

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to fall, chief executive Caroline Shaw said the QEH was moving “well beyond the peak of the second wave of the pandemic” and starting to see “more familiarities” across the trust, such as the Sandringham Unit re-open for non-urgent surgery.

The hospital had three Covid cases as of April 25 and has administered more than 38,000 jabs to patients and healthcare workers at its Covid vaccination hub and at Downham Market Town Hall.

Updating hospital board members on Tuesday, Mrs Shaw said staff were preparing to return to a single emergency department early this month and  hoped to re-open the day surgery unit in the Arthur Levin Centre by the middle of May.

“The trust is working through plans to safely reintroduce some volunteers on-site starting with priority roles, and will update further on this matter in the weeks to come, mindful of the positive impact our volunteers have on both patient and staff experience,” Mrs Shaw said in her report to the board.

The hospital has also begun contacting every patient who contracted COVID-19 in its care, or the next of kin for those patients who died, to ensure they are aware their loved one is believed to have caught the virus in hospital and “to ensure that they know we are very sorry for this”, Mrs Shaw said.

The first group of around 35 people had already been contacted, and it is anticipated that around 300 patients or next of kin would be contacted over the next few weeks, the board heard.

“This exercise is our opportunity to explain to our patients and their families the actions we are taking, and any lessons learnt,” Mrs Shaw said.

“It is also an important way of fully discharging our Duty of Candour responsibilities, and commitment to openness and transparency with our patients and their families.”

Members also heard the number of props supporting the hospital roof had needed to be increased to 194.

Mrs Shaw said meetings with external stakeholders, such as borough councillors, continued and work to develop a Strategic Outline Case for a new hospital was due to be finished by the end of the year.