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Thousands of concrete planks in hospital roof have defects, councillors told

todayDecember 6, 2021 11

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Thousands of concrete panels in the roof of Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital have been found to have structural defects during ongoing survey work, councillors heard today.

The extent of the crisis was outlined as plans for a new £12.5 million Endoscopy unit were outlined.

Members of West Norfolk Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the scheme during the session at Lynn Town Hall.

King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital (47772789)
King’s Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital (47772789)

The facility is partly intended to provide space for wards where patients can be moved to while what is described as “failsafe” work takes place in the main building.

Nicola Hunter, the hospital’s associate director of estates and facilities, told the meeting that work could not be done “around patients”.

She added: “We want to give our staff and patients the safest environment that we can.”

The current state of the QEH roof, held up by steel beams (45715163)
The current state of the QEH roof, held up by steel beams (45715163)

The extent of the QEH’s structural problems has been well documented, with 214 props currently being used across 56 areas of the site.

The hospital trust submitted two bids, for single and multi-phase rebuilds of the hospital respectively, to the Government in September.

The planning meeting was told that the roof contains around 11,000 reinforced concrete panels, with another 5,000 in the walls.

Ms Hunter said 85 per cent of the roof had now been surveyed, with half of the panels being found to have defects.

She added that the failsafe work would sustain the current building until the end of its life in 2030 and warned that the hospital risked weekly £50,000 charges for delays.

The meeting also heard that the trust is required to spend the money allocated for the scheme by the end of March 2022.

Sarah Jones, the trust’s strategic director of estates, said the scheme was part of its new hospital strategy and its delivery would “increase confidence of regional and national colleagues” in the organisation.

She added: “It will put us in a stronger position for our plan for a new hospital.”

Committee member Jo Rust, whose Springwood ward includes the hospital site, called for drainage concerns which had been raised with her by residents to be fully examined.

The proposed site for the unit is currently used as a staff car park, which officials say will be replaced around other parts of the hospital grounds.

Twelve trees will also be removed as part of the project, although all but one of them will be replaced.

However, former council leader Brian Long suggested drainage issues ought to be improved as a result of the development, as long as run-off rates were balanced.

Martin Storey called for the plan to “go ahead at speed”.

And committee chairman Vivienne Spikings said all the borough’s residents would be “grateful” to see the scheme proceed.

She added: “It’s a wonderful end to the year. Thank goodness. We need it.”

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