Airedale Hospital is one of the crowning jewels of Keighley.
Serving over 200,000 people across Yorkshire and East Lancashire and home to an amazing team of doctors, nurses and NHS staff. The heroes at Airedale go above and beyond to serve our community every single day, saving lives and providing care for some of the most vulnerable residents in our area.
In fact, every week, when I go out knocking on doors across Keighley, Ilkley, Silsden, the Worth Valley and our wider area, I hear stories from residents about how staff at the Airedale Hospital have helped my constituents and their families.
That’s why I’m proud to have secured funds to help the Airedale Hospital with vital maintenance work and to increase A&E capacity, including the new Intensive Care Unit – and rest assured, this money is already being put to good use.
But if there is one thing that we have known for a long time, it’s that the original hospital building itself is falling apart. Put simply, Airedale Hospital is in desperate need of a full rebuild.
It’s what staff at the hospital need and it is certainly what they deserve.
That’s why as soon as I was elected as the Member of Parliament for Keighley and Ilkley in 2019, I launched my campaign for a full rebuild of Airedale Hospital.
Since then, I have lobbied the Government at every opportunity for the funds for a new rebuild. This involved holding a personal debate on Airedale Hospital in Parliament, lobbying for a rebuild directly with the Prime Minister on numerous occasions, both at PMQs and in separate forums, and holding meetings with the ministerial team at the Department of Health and Social Care.
And I want people across Keighley and Ilkley to know that our campaign is making progress:
In Summer last year, I was invited to 10 Downing Street to have a personal meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the rebuild proposals and take my case directly to the top. I even used the opportunity to take a piece of crumbling aerated concrete from Airedale into the meeting to show just how urgent this situation is.
This month, I met with our Secretary of State for Health, Steven Barclay, as well as the Minister in charge of Hospital Rebuilding, Lord Markham, to again make our case clear.
Last week, I visited Airedale Hospital again to hear about how a rebuild could drastically improve health care provision in our area and to see first-hand those parts of the hospital impacted by the failure of its original construction.
And next week, I will meet once again with the Prime Minister to lobby the government for this campaign.
It is a huge sum of funds that I am lobbying for, but at each and every step of this campaign, I have explained to every level of government what we here in Keighley, Ilkley, Silsden and the Worth Valley know too well:
- Our hospital was built in the late 1960s with a planned life expectancy of 30 years. It is now over 50 years old.
- Our hospital is constructed from over 83% aerated concrete – a material known for its dangerous structural defects. This is the very same material used in the roof of a Scottish school that collapsed back in May 2019.
- Our hospital has over 50,000 of these aerated concrete panels running through its walls, floors, and roof – that’s five times more than any other hospital in the UK, and Airedale’s flat roof, combined with our often-times wet and windy Yorkshire weather, means that our hospital has more leaks than any other hospital in the country.
Airedale cannot suffer further ward closures. It would affect residents in Keighley and our wider area, as well as far beyond into Yorkshire and East Lancashire.
And so, just as Airedale has helped us through some of our most difficult times, it is high time that we give Airedale the support it so desperately needs.
It is vitally important that we secure a full rebuild of the Airedale Hospital, both for the future of our town and our wider area.
As your MP, I will never settle for second best or sticking plaster solutions for our town, and I will never stop banging the drum for my campaign.