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Modernising The Queen Elizabeth Hospital

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Investing in our estate, facilities and digital infrastructure is key to achieving our vision to be the best rural District General Hospital for patient and staff experience. We have a number of really exciting projects underway which willBuilding our future. The best is yet to come logo significantly modernise our hospital and in turn further improve the experience of our patients, their families and staff. The following projects are possible thanks to a £20.6m of emergency capital funding the Trust has received:

New state-of-the-art Endoscopy Unit

Preparatory groundwork is underway on a new £12.5m state-of-the-art endoscopy unit which will open to patients next spring, subject to planning permission. The investment provides the necessary theatre and ward space to allow the movement of wards and installation of failsafes where needed in the hospital ((to reduce the risk of Reinforced Autoclaved Concrete (RAAC) plank failures) which will further improve the safety and delivery of some services.

New outpatient facility

Churchill Ward (part of the Fermoy Unit), a space not currently used, is being transformed into a new outpatient unit. In January 2022, following its refurbishment, the following services will move to an enhanced environment more suitable for their needs and providing a better experience for patients and staff including:

  • Urology, Pain Service and Rheumatology – the rooms and facilities will better meet the needs of the services and allow for day care procedures to be undertaken in the department
  • Gynaecology outpatients, antenatal care and obstetric ultrasound - will benefit from having more space and working in an enhanced environment
  • Day Assessment Unit for pregnant women (20 weeks+) who need monitoring for a few hours - will benefit from an enhanced environment.

The unit will be named the Emerson Unit in memory of a much loved and valued Team QEH colleague, Chrissie Emerson, a Healthcare Assistant at the hospital who sadly died of COVID-19 in 2020.

New eye centre

A new £3m unit called the West Norfolk Eye Centre will be created in the vacant space within the Emerson Unit (previously known as Churchill Ward) in the Fermoy building, relocating the services from their current location in the main Outpatient department.

The increased capacity that will be created with this important development and effective design of the facility, combined with more efficient ways of working – such as developing ‘One Stop’ clinics - will mean that more patients will be able to receive care and treatment more quickly. Furthermore, the new bigger facility will be able to respond to the increasing numbers of patients requiring ophthalmology services – something that is set to rise over the coming years.

Opening in Spring 2022, this dedicated Ophthalmology outpatient facility will enable QEH to offer an additional 2,000 appointments and undertake 2,000 more intravitreal (IVT) injection procedures (a procedure to place medication directly in the back of the eye) each year.

Modernising our wards

From January 2022 the following ward refurbishments and upgrades will take place:

  • West Dereham Ward will be refurbished and converted into a dementia-friendly care of the elderly ward. The ward will better meet the needs of our elderly patients, which are a significant part of our local population. The move will bring the care of the elderly team together in one area of the hospital alongside West Newton care of the elderly ward.
  • Brancaster Ward will become a maternity ward.

The ward refurbishments are expected to be complete by April 2022.

Investing in our digital infrastructure We are investing almost £6m this year to further improve our digital maturity, with:
  • Electronic Prescribing – currently being rolled-out and will allow our prescribers to send electronic prescriptions directly to the pharmacy from the point-of-care
  • Single Sign On – allowing our staff to securely log-in with a single ID and avoid wasting time logging on to multiple systems and freeing up more time for patient care
  • A new Radiology Information System – which is now in place and allows our radiology staff to more effectively manage patient data including the huge medical image files generated in the course of diagnosing and treating patients, for example from x-rays
  • Work to support the implementation of a system-wide electronic patient record is underway – which in the future will allow information to be stored and shared in a digital format providing quick access to patient information and allow for more co-ordinated care.

Our Outline Business Case for a state-of-the-art Diagnostic Assessment Centre has progressed to the next stage following Board approval, and if successful, will provide additional imaging capacity and transform patient care by March 2024.

Alongside these projects, we are due to open a new Maternity Bereavement Suite in winter 2021 and will have two new MRI scanners to replace outdated equipment by the Spring 2022.

Finally, we have a rolling programme of onsite surveys and maintenance in place and the £20.6m of emergency capital funding is also allowing us to maximise safety by installing failsafes (to reduce the risk of RAAC plank failures) which will improve the safety and delivery of some services in the hospital.

Ongoing maintenance programme

In addition to modernising our facilities, we continue with our rolling programme of on-site surveys and maintenance to maximise safety at our hospital. The hospital was built in 1980 with prefabricated sections and includes a Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) plank flat roof structure.

RAAC plank roofs were only designed to last 30 years and our building, which is now over 40 years old, is in a desperate state. We are installing failsafes (to reduce the risk of RAAC plank failures) which will improve the safety and delivery of some services.

You may see these works being carried out and you may notice steel support props in place around the site if you are visiting us – these are in place to maximise the safety of the building.

As a RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) hospital, QEH will continue to need significant annual investment until a long-term sustainable solution for the hospital can be confirmed.

We are working hard to bring a new hospital to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk. To find out more about this work and to show your support for a new hospital, click here.


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