The condition of Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been condemned as a “betrayal” of both staff and the public, as Norfolk county councillors backed the demand for a rebuild.
The comments came as members yesterday voted unanimously to support calls for the Government to give the green light for a new build project there.
The vote took place during the first county council meeting since the recent elections and follows growing demands for action in recent weeks.
A motion proposed by Independent Alexandra Kemp, and subsequently amended by Conservative cabinet member Bill Borrett, called for the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, to “urgently approve” a new hospital in Lynn.
It also called for the Government to “fast track its build and design” and the council to write to Ministers to press the case for it.
Miss Kemp told the meeting that the number of steel props being used to hold the hospital’s roof in place had risen tenfold, to around 200, since she first wrote to the Government about its condition in February.
She said: “The QEH is falling down and the roof is caving in. I have never heard of a hospital in such a dire need.”
Mr Borrett’s amendment, which Miss Kemp accepted, highlighted the work of North West Norfolk MP James Wild on the issue and welcomed the commitment to rebuilding the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston.
He said it had similar issues to the QEH, adding that both hospitals and others had been built using materials which were not fully understood.
He concluded: “I urge the Government to listen.”
Tory backbencher Thomas Smith, who serves as a council-appointed hospital governor, paid tribute to the work of staff to improve the hospital’s fortunes despite the Covid crisis.
He said: “They have managed to make the hospital better during Covid. That is an incredible achievement and it’s been done despite the building, not because of it.
“We’re not asking for a queue jump or something unusual. We’re asking for the same as other towns. We want the knackered building replaced with a good one.”
Liberal Democrat Brian Watkins said the estimated £550 million cost of maintaining the present building “beggars belief.”
He added: “It’s a betrayal of West Norfolk and a betrayal of the loyal staff who have done their level best to look after patients during the pandemic and in the years before that.”
Former West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long said he owes his life to the care he received as a patient at the QEH and the condition of the building was now “simply not good enough.”
He asked: “How can they deliver quality health outcomes in a sub-standard environment?”
Newly-elected councillor Lesley Bambridge said the levels of illness and death seen in her Lynn North and Central division during the Covid crisis showed a new hospital was “desperately” needed.
And Labour’s Brenda Jones said neither West Norfolk nor Yarmouth could afford to wait a decade or more for a new hospital.
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