Health secretary Sajid Javid has acknowledged a “very powerful” case has been made by the area’s MP for a new hospital.
During the Queen’s Speech debate on making Britain the best place to grow up and to grow old, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care acknowledged the “very powerful” case for investment in King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
During the debate, North West Norfolk MP James Wild spoke about the 1,500 timber and steel roof supports in place in the hospital to manage the concrete planks issues.
He stressed the impact of this on staff and patients and said as a result of this “concrete cancer” the hospital trust has a “red rating due to the potentially catastrophic risk of failure of the roof structure”.
He said it was the “most propped hospital in the country” and that number was likely to increase as further safety work was completed.
While welcoming investment in the hospital’s new Endoscopy Unit and West Norfolk Eye Centre, Mr Wild said: “Now is the time to make a decision to build a new hospital for the 300,000 people across Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Cambridgeshire that QEH serves.
“This is not about having shiny new buildings for their own sake; it is about better health outcomes in some of the most deprived areas in the country that the government have recognised as a priority for levelling up.
“By committing to this vitally needed hospital, the inevitable requirement for a replacement will become part of a funded programme rather than an unplanned demand on the Treasury requiring emergency funding. That is better value for taxpayers and will deliver the improvements that people in North West Norfolk and beyond deserve.”
He told the health secretary he hoped he had “good news for my constituents soon, as they are rightly frustrated at the delay in this decision”.
In response Mr Javid said: “I also listened very carefully when we were talking about NHS investment to my Honourable Friend for North West Norfolk who I think made a very powerful case.”
The QEH has outlived its 30-year-old lifespan by more than a decade. The trust has submitted its case to the government and is hoping it will be selected for investment.
In 2020 the QEH missed out on being one of 40 new hospitals promised by the government and hopes have since been pinned on it being included in a further eight schemes to be funded by 2023.
The government was due to announce in the spring its shortlist for further schemes but the decision has been delayed.
Mr Wild and campaigners have been pressing the case for the hospital putting pressure on the government via debates and protests.
Campaigners have also called for a meeting with the health secretary.
During the debate Mr Wild said: “Last month, some of my constituents once again came to Westminster to talk about the need for QEH to be one of the additional eight new hospital schemes the government have committed to building.
“A major issue they asked me to highlight is just how bad an experience being in a ward surrounded by props holding up the roof is for patients. Staff at the hospital stressed how it makes it harder for them to do their job to provide the care the patients need.”