Fears over funding for new Norfolk hospitals
- Credit: QEH
Fears have been raised over potential delays to the funding of two Norfolk hospital re-builds, amid claims of disagreements between No 10, the Treasury and the Department for Health.
According to reports in the Sunday Times, a so-called “toxic triangle” has developed between the three departments, which is causing delays to the government’s manifesto pledge of building 40 new hospitals.
Included among that 40 is a new James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) in Gorleston, to replace the existing building.
Meanwhile the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn is waiting to find out whether it will be selected for a re-build, as one of eight further projects.
Both hospitals are in poor condition - with the QEH having to use 1,500 steel and timber supports to hold up its roof.
Alex Stewart, chief executive of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: “The need for two new hospital buildings in Norfolk is acute.
“Reports of internal disagreements between Government departments are no comfort at all to patients concerned about their long-term care and staff who are often working in challenging conditions.
He said the QEH was "one of the most compelling cases for a rebuild in the country".
And he added that the JPUH "is also nearing the end of its life and, with consultation around the shape of the building already under way, there can be no excuse for a delay".
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“We accept hospitals are, by their nature, complex construction projects but, on behalf of the county’s patients, Healthwatch Norfolk would be appalled if delays were happening due to Whitehall wrangles.
“These need to be resolved and progress communicated to the public as a matter of urgency."
Caroline Shaw CBE, the QEH’s chief executive, said: “A new Queen Elizabeth Hospital is the only sustainable long-term solution to solving the unique challenges we face.
“We are confident we have developed a compelling case and done everything possible to secure funding and deliver a new hospital by 2030."
The Department for Health said it remained on track to build 48 new hospitals by the end of 2030.
Regarding the JPUH, a spokesman confirmed funding would be provided once its business case had been reviewed - as planned.
Regarding the QEH, he said 128 bids for the eight still-to-be-decided pots of funding had been received from 100 NHS trusts and that details would be announced later this year.