A NEW state-of-the-art Airedale Hospital has been given the go ahead.

Plans for a new-build hospital at the Steeton site were amongst an ambitious £1.7 billion-plus package of proposals put forward to the Government in 2021.

Now, it has been confirmed that the existing, crumbling building will be replaced.

The scheme has secured a place on the Government’s New Hospital Programme.

Airedale Hospital, built in the late 1960s, was largely constructed using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete which was found to have a lifespan of 30 years. Structural engineers have advised that the hospital should be replaced as soon as possible.

Foluke Ajayi, chief executive of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, says: “We are truly delighted to hear the announcement that we have been accepted on to the New Hospital Programme.

"A new hospital will have far-reaching benefits for our local community, allowing us to continue to provide vital health care in a safe, modern environment that’s fit for the future, and that will improve patient outcomes and experience.

"I know I speak for all our incredible staff, patients, governors, volunteers and wider supporters when I say that this is the news we have been waiting for since we were first made aware of the major structural problems Airedale Hospital faces with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us so far along this process, in particular Bradford District & Craven Health and Care Partnership, West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, NHS England, our local MPs, leaders of our local authorities and local councillors.

"We are eager for planning to start on the new hospital but recognise that this is just the first step in the journey, and we look forward to hearing further details when they are announced.

"In the meantime, we are continuing to take every step possible to maintain a safe environment to provide high-quality health services for our community, and would like to thank our patients and staff for their continued patience as essential structural work continues at Airedale."

The new hospital will be built on the current site and is planned to be more environmentally friendly, making use of a range of sustainable technologies.

Andrew Gold, chair of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Being included as one of the hospitals added to the Government’s New Hospitals Programme is tremendous news, providing a major boost to the local community and securing the future of high-quality healthcare provision on the trust’s Steeton site for years to come.

"Replacing the well-chronicled reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete affected areas of Airedale Hospital has been a key priority for the past few years and this announcement means that we can all look towards the future with positivity. We are excited to use the opportunity presented with the New Hospitals Programme funding to transform healthcare for the population we serve and look forward to firming up plans as more information becomes available.”

Airedale is one of five hospitals with significant amounts of the type of concrete that are being added to the New Hospitals Programme – the others are Queen Elizabeth King’s Lynn in Norfolk, Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire, Mid Cheshire Leighton in Cheshire and Frimley Park in Surrey.

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “These five hospitals are in pressing need of repair and are being prioritised so patients and staff can benefit from major new hospital buildings, equipped with the latest technology.

“On top of this I’m strengthening our New Hospitals Programme by confirming that it is expected to represent more than £20 billion of new investment in hospital infrastructure.

“As we approach the 75th anniversary of our fantastic NHS, this extra investment will ensure it can care for patients for decades to come and help cut waiting lists, so they get the treatment they need quicker.”

Keighley MP Robbie Moore says he has been pressing for a full rebuild of Airedale Hospital since his election in 2019.

Last summer he took a piece of Airedale’s crumbling concrete into a key Downing Street meeting with the Prime Minister and key officials.

Mr Moore says: "This is a landmark day for Keighley and Ilkley and one of the most significant investments announced for our community in decades.

"A new Airedale Hospital will make an unprecedented difference to the lives of so many across our community for generations to come. Since being elected, I have campaigned tirelessly on this issue, alongside the fantastic Airedale NHS Foundation Trust. Having visited the hospital many times for meetings over the last few years, I have seen first-hand just how bad the structural condition is, and that’s why I made it my number one priority.

"From the moment I was elected I made it absolutely clear to Government on numerous occasions that our town would never settle for sticking plaster solutions and only a new hospital will do.

"With the money secured, now is the time for delivery. With this announcement stating the new hospital must be completed by no later than 2030, time is of the essence. Now the real work begins, and I look forward to working with the Government and the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust to ensure that the delivery of our landmark new hospital is a complete success.”

North Yorkshire councillor for Skipton West and West Craven Andy Solloway said: “ I am absolutely delighted that the Government have taken the first step towards a rebuild of Airedale Hospital, by actually recognising the very serious structural problems there.
“Of course, the next stage is securing the huge amount of funds to carry out the rebuild, but as I’ve said before Airedale Hospital is quite unique in that a rebuild can largely be done by working around the existing hospital and won’t involve a closure or much of a decanting of services. 
“This is a result of many people working together beyond party politics for the greater good. Airedale Hospital may well be in another part of Yorkshire, but it is very dear to the hearts of Craven residents who also regard it as ‘our hospital’.”