Demolition work starts in King's Lynn as crumbling Queen Elizabeth hospital prepares for rebuild

  • Watch ITV News Anglia's Rob Setchell's report on the start of demolition work at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn

Demolition has begun on a landmark building at a hospital which has finally been given the green light for a complete rebuild.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital at King's Lynn needs to be replaced before its current building - which was built to last 30 years but has already lasted for more than 40 - crumbles away.

Just 10 days after the government gave the go-ahead for it to be rebuilt, diggers have moved in for the first time.

The Inspire Centre is the first to be knocked down, revealing just a fraction of the failing lightweight concrete which is causing large parts of the hospital to fail.

Nearly 4,400 steel and timber supports hold up its walls and ceilings - eight times the number of beds.

A car park will be built on the site of the Inspire Centre so work on the new hospital can begin on the existing car park Credit: ITV Anglia

Alice Webster, the chief executive, said the number of props was likely to rise.

"We will continue to need to do remedial work. Tap and testing - literally - our walls and our roof, going round to have a look at them and making sure they are where they need to be.

"We will have to continue that work and we will continue that until the day we move out."

It is hoped that day will come in 2030, after the health secretary confirmed the government would fund a rebuild last month in response to a long and vocal local campaign.

And so begins a construction jigsaw - the Inspire Centre will make way for a multi-storey car park.

The existing car park will then become the site of the new hospital - with staff and patients consulted on the design.

Paul Brooks, director of estates and facilities, said: "We're crystal ball-gazing a little bit as well. What's going to be the needs of the patients in 2030? So we've got a big job."

Nurse Kristie Foreman has fond memories of going to her aunt and uncle's wedding at the centre Credit: ITV Anglia

Some staff came out to watch the first step, including paediatric nurse Kristie Foreman.

She remembers the Inspire Centre - not as the nursery or vaccination hub it became - but as the social club where her aunt and uncle had their wedding reception in 1982.

Ms Foreman was their bridesmaid.

"Personally, I feel a bit sad because that's where we had a family event but it was time for the building to go. It did look 40 years old. Our population is expanding, the hospital needs more space and we need a new hospital."

The Inspire Centre should take four weeks to knock down.

The hospital wants to hear from anyone who has special memories of a family event there and is asking people to get in touch so it can keep the spirit of the building alive.

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