Health Secretary Stephen Barclay has visited Airedale Hospital this week to meet with leaders at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, staff at the hospital and Keighley’s Member of Parliament Robbie Moore.
The visit comes after the Secretary of State announced a new Airedale Hospital at the end of last month in what the town’s MP called “one of the most significant investments announced for Keighley in decades”, with the government confirming plans for the landmark new hospital to be completed by no later than 2030 and on the same site as the current hospital.
Mr Barclay was welcomed to Airedale by Foluke Ajayi, Chief Executive of the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, leaders of the trust and MP Robbie Moore, where the group toured the hospital to survey the hospital’s current structural issues.
The current Airedale Hospital building, constructed over 53 years ago, primarily utilises reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), which is known for its structural deficiencies. With over 50,000 panels made of RAAC, Airedale Hospital surpasses all other hospitals in the United Kingdom in terms of this material. Extensive inspections have revealed more than 500 incidents of structural failure, including cracked panels and falling debris, resulting in the closure of certain wards due to safety concerns.
Mr Barclay and Mr Moore then met with nurses at the hospital, before hosting a roundtable discussion with hospital staff.
Following the meeting, Keighley’s MP has pledged to work closely with the Mr Barclay, the government and the Airedale NHS Foundation Trust to ensure the swift delivery of the new hospital.
Commenting after the visit, Robbie Moore MP said:
“After spending the last 3 and a half years tirelessly lobbing the government for a brand new hospital, I was delighted to welcome our Health Secretary Stephen Barclay to Keighley today following the news announced by our Conservative government that all necessary funds have been secured.
Today, we heard first-hand about what our new hospital will mean for our community and the Health Secretary had the chance to meet some of Airedale’s fantastic doctors, nurses and hardworking staff for a round table discussion about the future of healthcare in our area.
This is without doubt one of the most significant investments announced for Keighley in decades, and will secure the future of healthcare on the Airedale site for many generations to come.
I will continue to make clear to government, we must not get complacent. My priority for Airedale is now ensuring we see our new Hospital built as quickly as possible, in advance of the 2030 deadline. It was therefore fantastic to hear during the visit that enabling work will start as early as this year.
I thank the fantastic Airedale NHS Foundation Trust for their tireless work for our community and I look forward to working closely with them to ensure this landmark new hospital is a success.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said:
“I’ve enjoyed meeting patients and NHS staff today to talk about our plans for rebuilding on the Airedale site as part of our commitment to deliver 40 new hospitals by 2030, backed by over £20 billion of investment in new hospital infrastructure.
“The hospital serves around 250,000 people in West and North Yorkshire and Lancashire but has substantial structural issues. We are prioritising its rebuilding through the New Hospital Programme so local patients and staff can benefit from modern facilities equipped with the latest technology.
“As we approach the 75th anniversary of the NHS this year, this extra investment will ensure Airedale Hospital can continue to care for patients for decades to come.”