New King's Lynn hospital could be built near Hardwick Roundabout
- Credit: Chris Bishop
A study has recommended moving a Norfolk hospital to a brand new greenfield site if the government agrees to pay for a rebuild.
More than 200 props are holding up the roof of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn to prevent it from collapsing. Staff hope funding will be agreed for a new hospital in the autumn.
Campaigners have been calling for it to be rebuilt - and now a new feasibility study has recommended building it on 100 acres of farmland near the Hardwick Roundabout.
It says the site, which is north of the A47 between Lynn and Middleton, would "allow a complete service transformation and free up a brownfield site in the town centre, with potential capital receipts to offset the cost of the rebuild".
The report adds: "A new hospital, which includes on and off site options, would future-proof and right size the hospital for decades to come.
"It represents a generation opportunity to provide King’s Lynn and the greater surrounding area with a sustainable service for the future, that meets the demand and expectation for future growth in line with the wider healthcare system.
"The site is deliverable and available and under single ownership. It answers all of the challenges faced in the re-location and will create hospital provision for the benefit of hundreds of thousands of people who are currently deprived
of an effective, modern, and fully functioning hospital."
The study, prepared by property consultants employed by the landowner, who has chosen to remain anonymous, says the site could be accessed via a roundabout which is due to built on the A47 as part of plans for 4,000 new homes of Lynn.
It also reveals plans for a major new retail development beside the Hardwick Roundabout.
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It says: "A confidential scheme to deliver a food retail hub immediately adjacent to the Hardwick Roundabout will provide additional connectivity with a direct access road available, providing secondary access to the hospital site directly from the A149 Queensway."
The document goes on to state the new hospital could be solar-powered, adding: "Further development proposal to the North of the site includes a substantial solar power scheme.
"This would offer the hospital the ability to source green energy immediately adjacent to the site."
The study also warns developments already in the pipeline will increase the population of King's Lynn by 12,000, which will create "a substantially increased demand" on the QEH.
It says: "At 100 acres (with additional land possible) the proposed site is larger than the current location, allowing for increased parking provision, opportunity for flexible growth and expansion and for landscape and biodiversity improvements to aid in ecological and net zero carbon initiatives."
Copies of the document have also been sent to local politicians and health secretary Sajid Javid.
Laura Scaife-Knght, deputy chief executive of the QEH, said: "We are determined to do all we can to bring a new hospital to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk. We are developing our expression of interest so we can submit our strongest possible application to be one of the further eight new hospitals and our strategic outline case will be completed by November 2021. The process will involve looking at on and off site options for a new build.
"Thank you to our fantastic local community and partners who have signed the petition to show their support, and playing their part in helping to give QEH the best chance of receiving the investment it deserves. We encourage people to back our bid to build our future, by signing the online petition before it’s too late.”
Thousands have signed online petitions calling for funding to be made available for a new hospital at https://www.change.org/p/build-a-new-hospital-for-king-s-lynn and https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/590390.
The QEH was built from prefabricated sections with an expected life of 30 years. The building is still is use more than four decades later.
More than 200 props are holding up the roof, which the hospital's risk register describes as "a direct risk to life and patients, visitors and staff".
What has the government said?
The hospital was left off the list of 40 hospitals given money for new builds or refurbishment by the government in 2020.
But it hopes to be one of eight further hospitals which will be awarded funding after a government spending review in November.
The hospital needs £554m just to maintain the decaying building, or £679m for a new one.
Our petition calling for a new hospital to be built has attracted just over 8,000 signatures.
North West Norfolk MP James Wild has raised the case for a new hospital in the House of Commons.
In response, health minister Ed Argar said he recognised the seriousness of the situation at the QEH and said £20.6m had been allocated in capital funding for immediate issues.