King’s Lynn Hospital Roof Declared ‘Critical’

An inspection of the roof of Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, after bends were found in concrete planks within the structure, has led to a ‘small number’ of patients being moved out of critical care due to concerns.

Eastern Daily Press reports that the incident has now been deemed ‘critical’, and comes only a few months after two wards at the hospital had been forced to close temporarily to have parts of the roof supported with steel props.

Bends have been previously been found in some of the concrete planks used to build the structure at the QEH in the late 1970s, and now there are calls for a funding commitment to rebuilding the ageing hospital altogether.

Charles Joyce, leader of West Norfolk Council’s Labour group, told Lynn News that the situation was ‘beyond critical.’

“Nurses and doctors are expected to produce miracles in what resembles battlefield conditions as the building collapses around them,” he said.

“The Government must properly fund a replacement for the only general hospital in more than 30 miles in any direction.”

The condition of the hospital building has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months after the QEH missed out on a place in the Government’s list of 40 planned new hospitals last October.

A hospital spokesman said: “While we carry out essential maintenance work on our critical care unit, we have temporarily moved a small number of patients. We continue to have critical care capacity available while this work is underway and we are treating patients safely, as normal.”

According to QEH, the current work is part of its ‘rolling programme of estate management’, which follows the routine roof inspection

The hospital, which was originally intended to have a working lifespan of 30 years, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2020.

Concrete planks similar to the ones found to have bends at QEH have failed in other public buildings elsewhere in the UK, which had roofs constructed from them.

The hospital’s risk register, which was reviewed by its governing board on 2 March, states: “There is a direct risk to life and safety of patients, visitors and staff due to the potential of catastrophic failure of the roof structure due to structural deficiencies.”

Hospital bosses said in October that costs to maintain the roof would be around £554 million over the next decade, which is nearly as much as it would cost to construct a new hospital.

The QEH is one of 16 hospitals in England competing for a share of a government funding pot, from which only eight will be chosen to deliver a new hospital by 2030.

QEH narrowly missed out in an earlier funding round announced by prime minister Boris Johnson in October, in which the James Paget, in Gorleston, and West Suffolk, in Bury St Edmunds, hospitals were both allocated funds to build new hospitals, along with a new cancer hospital at Addenbrooke’s, in Cambridge.

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