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QEH Hospital King's Lynn is out of special measures with significantly improved rating

King's Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital is set to be lifted out of special measures following a new inspection.

Hospital bosses have welcomed the findings of a new report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which they say shows the progress made since the QEH was deemed inadequate three years ago.

But officials have also revealed that the number of props holding up the hospital's roof has soared to well over 400.

The current state of the QEH roof, held up by steel beams (53706865)
The current state of the QEH roof, held up by steel beams (53706865)

The latest CQC report, released today, follows an unannounced assessment of three core services – medicine, urgent and emergency care – in December. They were all rated good at the hospital, which serves patients in south Lincolnshire.

Inspectors then returned to the Gayton Road site last month for a 'well-led' inspection, which also resulted in a good rating.

The QEH is now rated good in three areas, for care, effectiveness and leadership.

Chief executive Caroline Shaw said the report was "an important milestone" for the trust.

Caroline Shaw, chief executive of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: Joshua Yates (54665246)
Caroline Shaw, chief executive of Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: Joshua Yates (54665246)

She said: “It is the result of a huge amount of hard work, focus and an absolute determination to continuously improve care and services for our patients and their families.

“This report shows how far QEH has come in the last three years, and that this Trust is well on the way to becoming the outstanding organisation that we all know it can become.

"Many congratulations to our Critical Care Team for being rated ‘Outstanding’ for Well-Led and having outstanding practice recognised in many areas, including patient safety, workforce developments and research and innovation projects.

“Importantly, the report also points to the areas in which we need to give even greater focus in the year to come.

"This includes leadership development across the organisation and continuing to do all we can to secure maximum capital investments so we can improve our decaying estate and the physical environment of our hospital.

"We know this is a key factor in delivering an outstanding experience for our patients, their families and staff.”

Fiona Allinson, the CQC's deputy chief inspector of hospitals, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic brought a number of additional challenges to the NHS, so staff are to be commended for the progress made at this particularly difficult time.

“The leadership team clearly understood the priorities and issues facing the Trust and were focused on making continual and sustained improvements, which is why the rating for how Well-Led the Trust is moves from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Good’.

“CQC will continue to monitor the Trust, to ensure these fantastic improvements are embedded and further improvements are made.”

The inspectors reported: “Staff treated patients with compassion and kindness, respected their privacy and dignity and took account of their individual needs.”

It said “staff felt respected, supported and valued” and “there was a strong focus on quality improvement to improve patients’ care and outcomes” with “the Trust committed to improving services by learning when things went well, and when they went wrong.”

It added that “communication, inclusion and partnership working were some of the biggest improvements within the Trust.”

Ms Shaw said: "We know our risk areas and hope to improve on that, it's a work in progress."

One risk area that was identified was the hospital's roof, which officials have now revealed is being held up by 470 steel props, far more than previously stated.

The QEH was not chosen for an initial list of 40 new hospitals announced by the government in 2020, but has submitted a bid to be included in a secondary list of eight. A decision is expected soon.

But building work has been taking place in recent weeks on a new £12.5 million Endoscopy Unit, which is expected to open in the spring.

An artist's impression of the planned Endoscopy Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (54104693)
An artist's impression of the planned Endoscopy Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (54104693)

Ms Shaw said: "We can start moving equipment in to the new unit, which will lessen the risk for certain members of staff."

The hospital also hopes to reduce wait times for consultations, which for some is as long as 50 weeks.

This is commonplace across the NHS, which has significant backlog after the pandemic.

Ms Shaw said: "As we emerge from the pandemic we hope to reduce wait times for clinics to four weeks."

Officials also aim to reduce waiting times in accident and emergency units, which have reportedly been as long as 17 hours in some cases.

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