A public meeting is to be held tonight (Friday) following a “continuing delay” in announcing if the Queen Elizabeth Hospital has made a government rebuild shortlist.
Campaigners and residents are set to meet at South Lynn Community Centre at 7.30pm to discuss concerns about having no update.
Meeting organiser, independent borough councillor and King’s Lynn trades council secretary Jo Rust, said: “We’ve had so many questions from concerned residents about the QEH and the number of props stopping the roof falling in.”
County councillor for Gaywood South, Rob Colwell said the community wanted answers for the continuing delay.
He added: “This community meeting will loudly show the that the QEH and West Norfolk must not be forgotten.
“How many more emergency struts are needed before the urgency of the situation is realised by those in power?”
North West Norfolk MP James Wild has been invited to speak at the meeting, as has county councillor for South Lynn and Clenchwarton, Alexandra Kemp, who recently went on a fact-finding tour of the hospital which currently has 1,528 props.
She described the visit as a “hard-hitting inescapable reality-check which was ever-present” throughout the building.
“Hearing from staff, the reality of the impact on the patient experience is lying in bed at night, asking if the roof is safe,” Ms Kemp said.
“Patients ask to keep the lights on all night or to move wards, because the props make them feel vulnerable and question their confidence in the safety and environment in which they are receiving excellent care from QEH’s caring staff.
“Then when it rains and the roof leaks into the buckets, beds sometimes have to be moved, or patients relocated to other wards.
“Staff often wonder if they should be looking up at the ceiling while doing their work, just in case the ceiling gives way,” she said.
Ms Kemp said the visit brought home to her the reality of the QEH being the most propped hospital in the country.
“It should not be like this. The adverse impact on the efficient and optimal running of the hospital, with its near-one hundred per cent bed occupancy, is unimaginable.”
Ms Kemp said the government needs a “palatable plan B” if the QEH is not on the list of eight hospitals for a full rebuild.
“A new hospital is the only long-term sustainable solution for QEH, she said.
“Parts of our hospital could have to close – this is the plan B. It is that desperate. Even the Inspire Centre, the vaccination centre, is riddled with RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete). There were even props and failsafes along the emergency evacuation route from the upstairs wards to the ground floor.
“It made me feel uneasy that the escape route is riddled with RAAC, though clearly failsafes are in place, but seeing this brought home again the reality of the challenge we are facing.
“The government has placed the James Paget and West Suffolk Hospital on the rebuild list. Yet the QEH is the most propped up hospital in the country. There is something badly wrong if the government still does not understand King’s Lynn’s need for a new hospital.”