Airedale Hospital is mostly made of material 'known for its structural deficiences' and must be rebuilt, Keighley MP Robbie Moore urges government

A Yorkshire Tory MP will lobby the Government to completely rebuild a half-century-old local hospital building which is made largely out of a construction material "known for its structural deficiencies".

Keighley MP Robbie Moore will use a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday June 15 to urge Ministers to commit to funding a brand new rebuild of Airedale Hospital at Steeton, near Keighley.

The majority of the site – some 85 per cent – is built from Siporex, a form of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC ) which is one 20th of the strength of normal concrete and has been used in much of the walls, floor and roofs.

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The material had an initial life span of 30 years and hospital bosses say “our only solution is to build a new hospital”, which would be more cost-effective than the current 51-year-old site.

Airedale General Hospital near Keighley, West Yorks. Picture: rossparry.co.uk / Chris Fairweather.

The ambition is for Airedale to be Europe’s first carbon zero hospital, with “vast use of renewables possible due to Airedale’s 42 acre estate”.

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A recently-constructed Emergency Department and Acute Assessment Unit would be retained but the new hospital is planned to contain 433 beds, an increase from the 383 within the current hospital.

As part of the £600m proposals, the beds would be in single rooms with en-suite facilities to help with infection control, reflecting on the experience of Covid-19 experience.

Mr Moore, who was elected in 2019, has previously lobbied Ministers to make the Airedale rebuild one of eight new hospitals planned on top of 40 pledged by Conservatives in their manifesto.

Ahead of the debate, he said: “Airedale General Hospital was built 51 years ago with an original life expectancy of 30 years. More than 83 per cent of the hospital is constructed from reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete which is present in the roof, walls and floors, and this construction material is known for its structural deficiencies.

"The loss of structural integrity of parts of the building has already led to the closure of small parts of the hospital.

“We need reassurance now from the government, so that we can plan ahead for the future and that’s why I am lobbying Ministers hard to ensure that we secure the funding we need for a brand new rebuild of the Airedale Hospital on the existing site, so that we can continue to provide brilliant healthcare services from the Airedale for many future generations – and I look forward to continuing to make my case tomorrow in my Westminster debate.”

Last week in the Commons, the Conservative MP asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock whether he would meet local hospital chief executive Brendan Brown to discuss the plans in more detail.

Mr Hancock said Mr Moore has made "a compelling case for me to visit". He said: "I look forward to my now forthcoming visit to Airedale hospital. I have not been yet, so I am very keen to come.

"The Minister of State responsible for the hospital building programme has been heavily involved, and I have been looking at the paperwork.

"As my hon. Friend knows, on top of the 40 hospitals we announced - six of which are already being built - we have eight further slots to come, and Airedale hospital is very much on my radar for those slots. We will run an open competition and will make sure it is fair, but I will certainly visit."

Plans for net zero carbon include wind power, solar canopies on car parks, battery storage, electric fleet and land use for additional solar generation.

As a smart hospital it would have intelligent buildings, automated delivery and collection of good, GS1 complaint and academic collaboration. Site opportunities include energy generation, growing veg, community space, a patient hotel, leisure facility and commercial sale or lease.