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Roof crisis at King's Lynn hospital, which serves Long Sutton and Sutton Bridge, is 'very serious and needs addressing', says Health Secretary

The Health Secretary has been to see the extent of the structural crisis facing its hospital for himself.

Matt Hancock opened the Queen Elizabeth Hospital's new Sandringham unit during a tour of the King's Lynn site yesterday, in which he saw the scale of the problems affecting its roof first-hand. The hospital serves parts of South Holland.

He acknowledged the issue, which means the hospital currently has 200 steel props being used to hold the roof up, was "very serious and needs addressing."

The current state of the QEH roof, held up by steel beams (46835060)
The current state of the QEH roof, held up by steel beams (46835060)

But he also called for a collective effort to resolve the problem.

Asked for a message to patients in West Norfolk and neighbouring areas which rely on the QEH, Mr Hancock said: "We're investing in the NHS.

"We've put in place the short-term action to keep this hospital safe. Let's work together on a long-term solution."

Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock (48271539)
Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock (48271539)

The QEH missed out on a place in a government list of 40 new build hospital projects last autumn, although a further eight are set to be included in a second phase.

Mr Hancock indicated that a decision on which trusts would get the funding would be made by the end of this year.

And trust chairman, Professor Steve Barnett, said Mr Hancock's visit was "hugely significant."

He said: "Having the opportunity to take the Secretary of State around this hospital, let him see the issues we have with the roof and explain to him the ambitions and aspirations we have has been a wonderful opportunity.

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

"He understood the situation we were in and he gave us, I think, a good indication that he will take that understanding back to Westminster.

"We are at pains to point out to our community and our staff that this is a safe environment in which to work and in which to treat patients.

The long-term solution is not to continue to prop up the roof and the wards. The long-term solution is to build a new hospital."

The QEH bought the Sandringham unit, which was previously a private hospital, last September, to help address the backlog of elective surgery work built up by the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Hancock said he was "delighted" to hear of the progress that had been made in the unit over recent months.

He said: “It has been truly inspiring to meet hard-working staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and hear their case to become one of the forty eight new hospitals we’re building, and to hear how they have delivered an astonishing 50,000 Covid-19 vaccines to local residents to keep people safe.

“I was honoured to officially open the Sandringham Unit which provides NHS staff with the modern facilities they need to offer vital surgery to their patients and help tackle the backlog in West Norfolk and the surrounding area.”

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