Operating theatres shut as ceiling woes at crumbling hospital persist

Props holding up the ceiling at the QEH

Props holding up the ceiling at the QEH, where staff members noticed concerning movement - Credit: Supplied

Three operating theatres have been closed at the crumbling Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn after staff members noticed movement in a corridor ceiling.

Three of the hospital's six theatres were temporarily shut earlier this week while surveyors assessed the structural integrity of the roof.

The west Norfolk hospital currently has its roof held up by more than 1,500 props as it waits to learn if it will be listed for a government-funded rebuild, with proposals in place for an £862m new-build on the hospital's main car park.

Those calls have been further amplified by the latest structural difficulties at the site.

Sarah Jones, deputy chief operating officer at the QEH said: "On July 27 and 28, our teams noticed some movement in the suspended ceiling above the corridor in our main theatre complex leading to our six elective inpatient operating theatres.

"As a precautionary measure, and to maximise everyone's safety, we have closed three theatres so our team of expert surveyors can assess the structural integrity of the roof.

"Operations scheduled to take place in those theatres today (July 29) will be transferred to our Sandringham unit and other theatres, which thankfully mean we will not have to postpone any procedures.

"This demonstrates once again that our hospital is unfit for purpose and the need for an urgent announcement about the desperately needed funding for a new QEH, recognising the impact on patient and staff experience and the operational running of our hospital."

The plight of the hospital was mentioned by prime minister hopeful Liz Truss during one of the recent Tory leadership debates with Rishi Sunak.

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She said: "I’m afraid some of our hospitals are falling apart. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, near me – bits of the hospital are being held up by stilts. That is not good enough for patients across the NHS.”

Rob Colwell, Liberal Democrat councillor for Gaywood South, said: "When you hear the QEH mentioned in the leadership debate it is a stark reminder of the crisis that is taking place.

"This latest development really brings home how serious it is. It is really shocking.

"Having three of the six theatres at a hospital closed on safety grounds is shocking reminder of how much this rebuild is needed."