Plans for a new state-of-the-art Airedale General Hospital are a step closer after it was announced today (Thursday 25 May 2023) by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay in the House of Commons that the hospital has secured a place on the Government’s New Hospital Programme.
Delighted staff celebrated the news after an announcement was made on the outcome of the bid which was submitted to rebuild the hospital.
Airedale General Hospital is among a small number of hospitals in the UK that were built in the late 1960s, and is experiencing severe structural problems as it was built with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a lightweight, bubbly form of concrete.
RAAC was found to have a lifespan of 30 years and structural engineers have advised that the hospital should be replaced as soon as possible.
Speaking after the announcement was made, Foluke Ajayi, Chief Executive of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “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 that have been waiting for since we were first made aware of the major structural problems Airedale General Hospital faces with Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC).
“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 RAAC affected areas of Airedale General 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 Hospital 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 RAAC that are being added to the New Hospital 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 Hospital Programme by today 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.”