The Queen Elizabeth Hospital opened with enormous fanfare in 2010.
Gordon Brown chose it to launch Labour’s election manifesto that same year because the new hospital was one of the accomplishments Labour could be most proud of.
In recent months, the high quality of its care has been praised around the world, as it treated Pakistani schoolgirl and campaigner Malala Yousafzai.
Perhaps it’s no wonder that when people in the surrounding region need treatment, they want to go to the Queen Elizabeth – even if, in some cases, they have another hospital nearby.
But that’s not the only reason the hospital is full to the brim.
As we reveal, the Queen Elizabeth has been forced to re-open parts of the old hospital which the new building was supposed to replace.
Despite the reassurances offered by managers, this cannot be good for patients.
The old building was not just old – by the time it closed, it wasn’t fit for purpose. Those old-fashioned wards and corridors were not up to the standards expected in a modern hospital.
They were never meant to receive patients again. The plan was for the building to remain empty until it could be used to house a new scientific centre bringing together the hospital trust, academics and businesses, which may provide a welcome boost to the economy but will not directly provide healthcare.
What appears to have forced the hospital to take drastic measures is a long-term and dramatic increase in the number of people across the region who need medical care.
It’s as simple and as difficult as that. Simple, because the explanation is simply that there are more patients. And difficult, because this isn’t something that can be easily fixed.
There has been a lot of speculation about the fact that as a society, we are living longer. It’s almost become a cliche to say this is something we are not prepared for.
But in the difficulties faced by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, we are seeing the practical effects.
Community care, which governments of all persuasions like to talk about it, is not good enough. There’s not enough of it.
In fairness to politicians, this may partly be because we the public, including the media, tend to demand hospital beds and departments, and distrust any talk of plans to divert resources to community healthcare.
But it is care in the community that is needed. Because this is lacking, hospitals are forced to take in patients who are genuinely in need of medical attention but wouldn’t need to be treated in a hospital, if only other options were available.
Having said that, Queen Elizabeth Hospital needs to expand. And one way of doing this might be for University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust, the body which runs it, to look at ways it can work more closely with other hospitals in the region.