Jeremy Corbyn 'astonished' by condition of QEH at rebuild rally

People gathered in The Walks in King's Lynn on Saturday, July 3, to highlight the need for a new hospital for west Norfolk.

People gathered in The Walks in King's Lynn on Saturday, July 3, to highlight the need for a new hospital for west Norfolk. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

Former Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was "astonished" by the state of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn at a rally attended by more than 200 people.

People gathered in The Walks on Saturday, July 3, to highlight the "urgent" need for a new hospital for west Norfolk.

GP Dr Pallavi Devulapalli with Jo Rust, secretary of the King's Lynn Trades Council.

GP Dr Pallavi Devulapalli with Jo Rust, secretary of the King's Lynn Trades Council. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

The roof of the QEH is currently being held up by almost 200 props, yet it was not included in a list of hospital rebuilds announced by the government in October

Its risk register warns there is "a direct risk to life and patients, visitors and staff" and the hospital hopes it will be one of eight further new builds chosen from a shortlist of 16 later this year.

People gathered in The Walks in King's Lynn on Saturday, July 3, to highlight the need for a new hospital for west Norfolk.

People gathered in The Walks in King's Lynn on Saturday, July 3, to highlight the need for a new hospital for west Norfolk. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

Mr Corbyn was among those speaking at the rally on Saturday after he was contacted by Jo Rust, secretary of King's Lynn Trades Council, about the situation.

He said: "This isn't the only hospital which has this building and construction problem.

Jeremy Corbyn was among the speakers at a QEH rally at The Walks in King's Lynn.

Jeremy Corbyn was among the speakers at a QEH rally at The Walks in King's Lynn. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"They have to urgently deal with that, either by replacing the roof if that can be done, or rebuilding the whole hospital, which sounds the more likely option. 


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"But it is about ensuring all patients are safe. If you or I lived in a house where the roof is in danger of falling in, unless we had scaffolding holding it up, I think we would do something about it and probably move out.

Members of the Save the QEH group.

Members of the Save the QEH group. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"The same thing applies to NHS patients, they have to be cared for and they have to be safe.

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"Already there have been occasions when the ICU was closed down in order to move patients out because they were worried about the safety.

"It's urgent, it's got to be done."

In March we launched a campaign to see the QEH rebuilt, and a petition which has been signed by more than 7,500 people.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesman previously said the government "fully recognises" the need to invest in health infrastructure.

Speaking to those gathered in The Walks, Mr Corbyn said: "Frankly I'm just astonished, you've got 200 props holding up the roof of the hospital that has so far been inspected, the rest is going to be inspected as I understand it and therefore there is going to be a growth in props.

Jeremy Corbyn was among the speakers at a QEH rally at The Walks in King's Lynn.

Jeremy Corbyn was among the speakers at a QEH rally at The Walks in King's Lynn. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn, has 131 props keeping up its roof.

Picture of one of the props put up in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. - Credit: QEH

"This is the 21st century, this is absurd."

GP Dr Pallavi Devulapalli spoke of recent demand on the region's hospitals, saying there was a high percentage of bed occupancy across the sites in the last quarter.

GP Dr Pallavi Devulapalli at the QEH rally in King's Lynn.

GP Dr Pallavi Devulapalli at the QEH rally in King's Lynn. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

She added: "Without the QEH the people of west Norfolk literally have nowhere to go if they need a bed.

"With this in mind, it seems shocking that we have to stand up here and ask for a new hospital to be built.

"This hospital is crumbling in front of our eyes."

Gordon Taylor, from Unison, said it fully supported the QEH campaign and branded the current situation "unacceptable", highlighting how staff and patients see "scaffolding, poles and wooden beams" across the wards on a daily basis.

He added: "No promises have been made for a new hospital. The QEH in King's Lynn needs to be rebuilt and this community needs a new hospital.

"If we secure funding, work would not be done until 2025 so we're four years down the road before possibly starting to build a new hospital.

"This town and community needs a new hospital, not in 2025, not in two years or next year. It needs something to be done now."

Banner at the QEH rally in support of hospital rebuild.

Banner at the QEH rally in support of hospital rebuild. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

Ms Rust said: "Patients are having to go to bed, looking at props and wood above them.

"Imagine having to go to work every day walking down corridors that are held up with props and wood.

"Our NHS staff have worked their socks off through this pandemic and yet they are going to work on a daily basis in unsafe conditions."

The QEH was given £20m in government funding to help with structural problems and board papers revealed that extra wards and operating theatres will be created using that money.

Here's what supporters at the rally had to say:

Fabia Pollard, chair of Unison West Norfolk, said: "Lots of my family and friends work at the hospital and I know the conditions they are working in, no-one should have to work like that."

Fabia Pollard, chair of Unison West Norfolk.

Fabia Pollard, chair of Unison West Norfolk. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

Adele Smith, whose daughter works at the QEH, said: "At the moment we are wanting to raise the profile of the situation. 

"The hospital is being held up by 200 props and is going to take a long time to repair."

She said more people need to hear about the campaign and support it.

Ashley Foster, 34, a member of GMB Union, said: "It's dreadful, if it was the Houses of Parliament it would have got rebuilt by now.

"It is in such a bad state."

Philip Wagstaff, 70, said: "It is the only hospital in the area. It's a complete shambles. Norfolk is a nightmare county to get to one place to another.

Philip Wagstaff at the QEH rally in King's Lynn.

Philip Wagstaff at the QEH rally in King's Lynn. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"It only takes one accident and Norfolk comes to a complete halt. It's absolutely essential we have a working hospital.

"The hospital has been falling apart before our eyes for a long time and for it to not be included on the list is mind boggling."

More than 200 people gathered at a march and rally in King's Lynn in support of a new hospital build

More than 200 people gathered at a march and rally in King's Lynn in support of a new hospital build - Credit: Sarah Hussain

People gathered in The Walks in King's Lynn on Saturday, July 3, to highlight the need for a new hospital for west Norfolk.

People gathered in The Walks in King's Lynn on Saturday, July 3, to highlight the need for a new hospital for west Norfolk. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

Matthew Fletcher, 17, at QEH rally in The Walks.

Matthew Fletcher, 17, at QEH rally in The Walks. - Credit: Sarah Hussain


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