A NEW Airedale Hospital is now "essential", it's claimed.

The deteriorating state of the building, which is over half a century old, has prompted urgent demands for action.

Keighley's town mayor, Councillor Luke Maunsell, pays glowing tribute to staff at the Steeton site.

But he fears that without a hospital fit for purpose, they could struggle to continue delivering vital care.

Cllr Maunsell says: "I offer my sincere support to any effort to secure Airedale Hospital's future by guaranteeing its rebuilding.

"Like so many people, my loved ones and I have had to use the hospital at various times – and I can't thank or praise the staff enough for the tireless, highly professional and inspirational service they provide. Every day they save lives, help bring new ones into the world and support those who require medical attention.

"But the site is clearly in need of support itself to ensure the team can continue to deliver vital care.

"I urge the Government to get behind Airedale Hospital and give it the life-changing 'treatment' it needs."

Keighley MP Robbie Moore says he is continuing to campaign for the new hospital, and has recently spoken in Parliament on the issue.

He adds that he's also had regular meetings with senior Government figures to push the case.

"Since being elected I have made absolutely clear my view that Airedale Hospital needs and deserves a rebuild," said Mr Moore.

"Whilst it continues to provide an exceptional service to my constituents, the structural risk of the building is too great – meaning a rebuild is essential."

Last year, plans for a new Airedale Hospital were amongst an ambitious £1.7 billion-plus package of proposals put forward to the Government.

Forty hospitals have previously been selected for a rebuild, with a further eight to be announced in due course.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says structural engineers have advised that due to the age of the building and type of construction, it should be replaced by 2030.

And the trust adds that meantime, "every step possible" is being taken to maintain safety at the site.

"This includes putting in structural supports and installing steel beams where necessary," says Fran Hewitt, senior programme manager with the trust's Securing the Future initiative.

"We have just embarked on a rolling decant programme to undertake extensive structural work in all of our wards and some other parts of the hospital.

"Our intensive care unit last week moved into a new, state-of-the-art modular building as part of this programme and we aim to begin work on the wards in early October.

"Airedale has submitted a bid to be included in the new hospital programme. Whilst no clear timeline has been provided, indications are that the final decision will be announced this year on the remaining eight hospitals to join the programme."