Securing the Future of Airedale

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Overview

Securing the Future is the name of our programme to make our hospital structurally secure, whilst we work to try and get funding to build a new hospital for Airedale.

This is because a large amount of the hospital is built with Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC), a lightweight, bubbly form of concrete that was used to build schools, colleges and hospitals in the 1960s to 1980s. RAAC poses a structural risk as it has been found to have a lifespan of 30 years, and Airedale Hospital is now more than 50 years old.

Structural engineers have advised that the building needs to be replaced, so last year the Trust bid for government funding to rebuild the hospital through the New Hospital Programme. A formal announcement about the hospitals on the programme is expected from the government soon.

Why is RAAC a problem?

In 2019 a national alert was raised about buildings that were built using reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) planks. Airedale is one of seven hospitals across the UK to be significantly affected by RAAC, however it is unique because we have the largest extent of RAAC in the walls, floors and ceilings (83 per cent of the Airedale estate is constructed almost entirely of RAAC) and we have more than 50,000 RAAC panels in our walls, floors and ceilings. Airedale is also the only hospital to have found defects in its main building structural frame.

This infographic explains why there is such a need for a new hospital for Airedale.  Click here to enlarge the image.

Infographic showing facts to explain why a new hospital is needed.

What are we doing to make our hospital structurally secure?

Since RAAC was first discovered, the Trust has been working with NHS England, other affected RAAC hospitals and structural engineers to ensure the right steps are taken to manage any issues to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors, and staff.  In order to maintain the current building, an extensive programme of planned maintenance works is underway through the RAAC Programme.

We are:

  •  Structurally supporting any panels identified by structural engineers as being badly deteriorated or damaged.
  • Putting structural support into wards and other areas to further support the RAAC panels – 500 of the most severely damaged planks are being supported with structural steel, timber or acrow-props.
  • Applying an external coating to prevent more water getting in and try to reduce the rate of deterioration.
  • Fixing parts of the roof where the worst leaks are more likely to occur.

We have completed 100 per cent of inspections on load-bearing RAAC planks, meaning that every plank has now been inspected at least twice. Planks showing signs of damage or deterioration are continuing to be monitored more frequently in line with the structural engineer’s recommendations.

What you might see while you are at the hospital

We pride ourselves on providing the best care possible in a restful environment, and all work that is being carried out is being done with patient experience in mind.

To be able to provide a safe environment for our patients, staff and visitors, and to continue to provide high quality health services for our community, we have to ensure that the building is properly maintained.

This inevitably means that there will be some unavoidable disruption, including changes to where some services are located across the site. This has included a number of ward moves, so please take a look at the map on the Getting here and parking  page to find where you are going before you attend the hospital. More information about the ward moves is on the Current Estates Work page.

Where there are changes to the location of services, signs will also be in place to direct you to where you need to be.

As inspections of the RAAC planks are ongoing, you may come across members of our Estates team carrying out these precautionary checks during your visit. Due to the nature of the work taking place, we expect there to be some noise and disruption from time to time.

Work is also ongoing to structurally support the RAAC planks, some of this is happening in areas that are closed off, however you may hear some noise whilst you are visiting our wards or departments.

If you are visiting us during the spring and summer months you might come across some of our Estates team applying an external waterproof coating to parts of the building. This work is all carried out outside but you may notice a slight chemical smell when this is applied, which should only last for a short period of time.

We are doing everything possible to keep disruption to a minimum and want to thank you for your patience as this vital work is carried out.

If you have any concerns or encounter any problems while you are here, please speak to a member of staff.  If you have any feedback on your experience, please contact PALs.

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