Competition to be on new hospital list is ‘just wrong’

Friday Politics by councillor Jo Rust – Independent, Springwood Ward, in the paper on Friday, June 23:

Following on from the May local elections we heard the news that our QE hospital was to join the list of 40 new hospitals that this government pledged to build by 2030.

While this is, of course, good news, there are nuances that need to be closely looked at. After all, we weren’t on the original list of 40 and our inclusion has meant that another hospital is now no longer a priority. I’ve always said we shouldn’t have to compete for vital public buildings. If a hospital or school needs replacing, then it should be replaced.

Campaigners for a New King's Lynn Hospital continue. Pictured Cllr Jo Rust with Caroline Shaw ex-Chief Executive (QEH)
Campaigners for a New King’s Lynn Hospital continue. Pictured Cllr Jo Rust with Caroline Shaw ex-Chief Executive (QEH)

But it was a competition to be on the list, and that is just wrong. While we are expected to have a new building, it won’t have an increase of 38% of new beds as we previously expected.

It’ll be built with approximately the same number of beds as we currently have. Bearing in mind that the current occupancy rate (how many beds are taken up and how many are free) is at 97% and has previously been at 100%, do we really think the same number of beds will be enough? I don’t.

Our population is set to grow and our health needs will also grow. We’ve got housing planned for so many areas and each one of those residents will need a hospital to use for A&E, elective or whatever service it is they require.

King's Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital
King’s Lynn Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Provision of health services in the community have been used to justify the decision to have the same number of beds, but I’d say that the reason our hospital isn’t going to be built as previously planned is nothing to do with that and everything to do with government decisions to build on the cheap. AGAIN.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on developments and continue to try to influence a more positive outcome for our community.

Following on from the point about government decisions I raised an eyebrow when I read that the local Conservative MPs have all signed a letter disagreeing with cuts to local BBC services. It was their party that announced a freeze to the licence fee which equated to a real term cut of £2 billion to the BBC’s finances.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson

Why on earth are they trying to convince (or fool) us that they now care about their local services. Our local reporters, whether it’s on radio or TV, are incredibly good at ensuring important stories relating to our area are given prime media time.

There have been several occasions when our local stories, and those who report them, have made it to national news. Is there any one of us who can forget the grilling that former PM, Liz Truss received, when she was interviewed by BBC Radio Norfolk?

The BBC provide a vital service for all of us. We’re entitled to criticise it, but we, unlike the MPs, do not get the chance to actually vote on the level of services it provides.

James Wild MP
James Wild MP

Each and every one of those Conservative MPs who are now shouting in outrage about the cuts to local BBC services knew what they were voting for. Don’t be persuaded (fooled) by their outrage.

It’s actually the same as when they all voted to increase the age of retirement for women and then claimed they supported the WASPI campaign. It’s pure publicity and totally lacks genuine support.

Finally, the privileges committee report into Boris Johnson and Partygate found that he had deliberately misled parliament and showed contempt for not just the process, but also the integrity, honour and honesty of the committee members.

Johnson lied to parliament and now can’t even have a permit to enter the house. A former member’s pass is a standard item for those who have been an MP, yet Johnson’s actions are so bad that he has been denied it.

His dishonesty would have contaminated the whole of government and it’s right and proper that the report was agreed by the majority of those who voted for it.