A GLEAMING new £6.3 million Emergency Department at Airedale Hospital hosted a preview launch for dozens of guests this week.

Civic leaders, patients, sponsors and health professionals were among the people invited to the event on Monday.

Dr Meg Crossley, emergency care consultant and project lead for the new department, said she felt “overwhelmed” by the successful completion of the development, which was due to begin accepting its first patients yesterday.

“It’s the culmination of a huge amount of thought on the part of our doctors and nurses,” she said. “It brings together the best bits of all the departments we’ve worked in, and it’s something we’ve all dreamed of.

“It’s bigger and better than we’d hoped it would be.”

Addressing guests at the launch, she added: “14 months ago we turned the lights off in the old department. It was sad – we’d looked after just over a million patients there – but it was not fit for purpose.

“This new facility is here for our community for the next 30 years.”

The new department was developed by Willmott Dixon, and construction began last autumn.

Facilities include separate adult and children’s waiting areas, a quiet room for friends and families to use during stressful events and better privacy and dignity for vulnerable older patients, their families and carers.

Children have also been specially catered for, with bright, moving images projected onto ‘distraction walls’ to help calm frightened youngsters.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust chief executive, Bridget Fletcher, said: “It’s a great facility for our local community and it is in accordance with our philosophy of putting the patient right at the centre of everything we do.”

Keighley Mayor, Councillor Graham Mitchell, said: “I’ve been a patient in the old A&E on several occasions but this new department is just mind-blowing. It’s obviously extremely well-equipped, and Keighley is so lucky to have such a fantastic facility on its doorstep.

“Both my late mother and father spent their final days in intensive care here and had excellent treatment.”

South Craven MP Julian Smith said: “The new department is fantastic.”