Plans for a new state-of-the-art Airedale General Hospital took a significant leap forward as it was revealed today by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, in the House of Commons that the hospital has secured a coveted spot in the Government’s New Hospital Programme.

The news was met with elation by the hospital’s staff, who eagerly awaited the outcome of the bid submitted for the hospital’s reconstruction. Airedale General Hospital, like a few others in the UK, was originally constructed in the late 1960s and is currently grappling with severe structural issues due to its use of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a lightweight and porous type of concrete.

Engineers specialising in structural integrity have advised that the hospital should be replaced as soon as possible due to the limited lifespan of RAAC, which is approximately 30 years. This revelation prompted the urgent need for a new hospital facility.

Expressing her joy at the announcement, Foluke Ajayi, Chief Executive of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, stated, “We are truly delighted to hear the announcement that we have been accepted onto the New Hospital Programme. A new hospital will have far-reaching benefits for our local community, allowing us to continue to provide vital healthcare in a safe, modern environment that’s fit for the future and that will improve patient outcomes and experience.”

Ajayi expressed gratitude to all the supporters who have stood behind the hospital throughout this process, particularly acknowledging the Bradford District & Craven Health and Care Partnership, West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, NHS England, local Members of Parliament, leaders of local authorities, and councillors.

While eagerly awaiting the commencement of planning for the new hospital, Ajayi acknowledged that this was only the initial step in the journey. Further details regarding the project are anticipated to be announced in due course.

In the interim, the hospital is making every effort to maintain a safe environment for the provision of high-quality health services to the community. Ajayi thanked the patients and staff for their ongoing patience as essential structural work continues at Airedale.

The new hospital will be constructed on the existing site and is set to embrace environmentally friendly practices, incorporating various sustainable technologies. Andrew Gold, Chair of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, expressed his enthusiasm about being included in the Government’s New Hospitals Programme, emphasising the positive impact it would have on the local community and the enduring provision of exceptional healthcare on the Trust’s Steeton site.

Addressing the significance of replacing the RAAC-affected areas of Airedale General Hospital, Gold stated, “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 General Hospital is among the five hospitals, alongside Queen Elizabeth King’s Lynn in Norfolk, Hinchingbrooke in Cambridgeshire, Mid Cheshire Leighton in Cheshire, and Frimley Park in Surrey, that have been selected to be part of the New Hospital Programme due to their significant reliance on RAAC.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, stressed the urgency of repairing these five hospitals, ensuring that patients and staff benefit from new, technologically advanced hospital buildings. Barclay also confirmed that the New Hospital Programme is expected to bring in over £20 billion of investment in the hospital infrastructure, bolstering the capabilities of the NHS to care for patients effectively and reducing waiting times for necessary treatments.

As the 75th anniversary of the NHS approaches, this substantial investment promises to secure the healthcare system’s ability to meet the needs of patients for years to come.