‘People are walking taller’: MP after visit to hospital following rebuild announcement

There is a “real buzz” among staff and patients at Lynn’s hospital after funding for a replacement was confirmed, the area’s MP has said.

James Wild, MP for Norh West Norfolk, visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital this morning, after yesterday’s news that the QEH had been added to the Government’s New Hospital Programme.

After years of campaigning from the local community, Health Secretary Steve Barclay made the announcement in the House of Commons on Thursday that the QEH would get the funding for its £862million rebuild.

King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital will be rebuilt after it was included in the Government's New Hospital Programme. Picture: Queen Elizabeth Hospital
King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital will be rebuilt after it was included in the Government’s New Hospital Programme. Picture: Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Its current site has at least 4,394 steel and timber support props in 56 areas of the hospital holding up its roof – making it the most propped-up in the country.

Mr Wild, who himself has made continuous calls for a new hospital in parliament, told the Lynn News: “I’ve been at the hospital this morning and the people working there are walking taller.

“All around the hospital, there’s a real buzz.”

While admitting that the work to build a new one would not happen “overnight” – the earliest it is expected to open its doors is 2029 – Mr Wild said: “It has been a long journey, spearheaded by concerns from people locally – some who were even saying the hospital might close.

“I never accepted that was the case.

“There has been great support from the community, the hospital, other MPs and politicians and it’s that collective effort which is really what has got it over the line.”

He added: “It’s been a real turn-around story. It’s tremendous.”

Props holding up the crumbling roof at King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital
Props holding up the crumbling roof at King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital

The MP said this was a “major moment” for West Norfolk, which “doesn’t happen very often”.

“Coupled with other things, such as the Town Fund and the Southgates redevelopment, there’s a real opportunity to give West Norfolk a boost – a boost for the economy and to lift the local area,” he added.

“The new hospital will deliver much better care for patients and a much better working environment.”

Mr Wild said the community could look to hospitals elsewhere in the region – West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds and James Paget in Great Yarmouth – which were also built using RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) and previously added to the New Hospitals Programme to see what the future could hold for QEH.

“The health secretary is talking about standardising the design for new hospitals, and having this standard ‘hospital 2.0 design’ means we can do things more efficiently, which is better for taxpayers,” he added.

“Clearly we want to move on with this as fast as possible.

“There’s a large amount of investment for the local NHS which is a great thing.

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

“Clearly we would like it to be done tomorrow, but it’s not that easy.”

In the meantime, the hospital will continue to install failsafes and props in as much of an “unobtrusive” way as possible, Mr Wild said.

South West Norfolk MP and former prime minister Liz Truss also visited the QEH and said: “Dropped in at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after confirmation from the Health Secretary that a new hospital will be built.

“Excellent to catch up with chair and CEO, Chris Lawrence and Alice Webster, following the good news.

“I will do all I can to support opening by 2030.”

Yesterday chief executive Alice Webster said: “We are absolutely delighted to have been added to the New Hospital Programme.

“This crucial announcement means we can move at pace to bring a much-needed new hospital to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk.

“It’s excellent news for our patients, the communities we serve and every person in Team QEH, and I want to express our immense gratitude to all who have supported us in getting to this crucial stage.

“Our campaign for a new hospital united us all and I am delighted that we have achieved this result together.”

Meanwhile, Chris Lawrence, chair of the trust, said: “This is fantastic news for QEH and a pivotal moment that repays all the hard work of so many people who have lobbied with such determination and commitment.

“A new hospital is the only sustainable long-term solution to the unique challenges we face, and we are really pleased and delighted the urgent need for a new QEH has been formally recognised.

“We can now move forward with building a new hospital on the current hospital site, so we are ready to open doors to patients by 2030.”

Antonia Hardcastle, lead governor representing 6,300 public members of the trust, said: “The governors are delighted that QEH has been awarded funding for a new hospital.

“Now our patients can be assured that they will benefit from a modern hospital.”