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‘Grave concerns’ that hospital rebuild will be delayed due to funding uncertainty

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A senior councillor says she has “grave concerns” that the rebuild of Lynn’s crumbling hospital could be derailed due to uncertainties over funding for the project.Jo Rust, cabinet member for people and communities at West Norfolk Council, said the rebuild of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital is facing “delay after delay” and fears a lack of progress suggests it will not be delivered by a deadline of 2030 – the date when it is supposed to become unusable.A new £42million multi-storey car park needs to be constructed at the current site before any building work can begin, but funding is yet to be released for this.

There are fears that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital rebuild will not be complete by 2030

Cllr Rust said: “We were given a very clear timeline as to what needed to happen to get the rebuild done by 2030.“But all we have had is delay after delay.“I have grave concerns that there has been no progress with any building needed to pave the way for the hospital.”

Cllr Jo Rust. Picture: West Norfolk Council

Cllr Rust has said she has “no confidence” that any funding will be released due to the general election due this year.She has so far had no response from the Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green parties after asking for a guarantee that any incoming government would commit to replacing the RAAC-built hospital in Lynn, which is currently being held up by thousands of props to prevent the roof collapsing.It has led to calls from Cllr Rust to consider alternative sites that she believes could provide a better location for the facility if the delays mean the target date is going to be missed.Potential sites have been identified in the West Winch area, which is earmarked for major growth with thousands of homes and a new road connecting the A10 and A47 which will boost transport infrastructure in the area.Rebuilding the hospital at its current site means access is limited to using the already congested A149.The issue has previously led to claims from another borough councillor, Alun Ryves, that the rebuild project has “lacked scrutiny” and that other options have not been adequately explored.It is understood that four or five other sites were explored, but rebuilding the current site was deemed the best option to deliver the new hospital by 2030.Paul Brooks, director of estates and facilities at the QEH NHS Foundation Trust, has said the team continues to work closely with the Government’s New Hospital Programme Team to achieve the deadline of opening the new hospital to patients by 2030.Work has also been carried out to ensure the current building’s safety.“Maintaining the safety of our hospital remains our priority and we have implemented an intense installation programme over the past three years to create a steel and support structure to maintain the safety of the roof of our current building, for our patients, visitors and staff,” Mr Brooks said.The QEH opened in 1980 and was built using aerated concrete, or RAAC, a lightweight building material that has a short lifespan.It was used to construct schools, hospitals and other public buildings since the 1950s as a cheap alternative.It has since become apparent that the UK is facing a concrete crisis, with many of these buildings at risk of collapse as they have been used longer than initially intended and the building materials are beginning to fail.In the case of the QEH, the original building was only intended to be used for 25 years – but 40 years on, it remains in operation and the roof is being supported by thousands of props.

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