A PROPOSED extension to Airedale Hospital will help relieve pressure on the facility’s increasingly-stretched surgical department.

A planning application to build a two-storey extension on a car park and grass verge of the Steeton hospital has been submitted to Bradford Council.

Hospital bosses say the work will allow more operations to take place – reducing the number of patients who have to attend other facilities, and the amount of overnight stays.

The new building will include two state-of-the art “barn”-style theatres and a small procedure suite with a main entrance, reception and outpatient waiting space.

The entrance to the maternity wing of the hospital will be relocated as part of the development.

A main focus of the 1,610 square metre extension will be to provide new facilities for orthopaedic and ophthalmology procedures.

An inspection by the CQC in 2017 called for the hospital to improve some of its facilities, and bring them up to national levels.

The application says the planned work “is tailored to alleviate this concern”.

It adds: “Fundamentally, it also responds to the current and anticipated future needs of our local population, recognising the unique needs of an ageing and rural population and ensuring that good quality access to local services is sustained.”

Barn-style theatres are open plan, with shared preparation and cleaning facilities, and the application describes them as the latest trend in operating theatres.

The planning application says: “The existing theatres were built 20 years ago and, over that time, the trust has increased the number of surgeons, anaesthetists and theatre staff to manage the annual increase in elective activity.

“The trust has also ensured that all theatres are used within core working hours wherever possible. In the last eight years there has been a ten per cent increase in the number of theatre sessions used, rising to 99 per cent of theatre sessions running in 2016/17.

“The trust relies upon its existing consultants providing theatre activity over and above their job plans to meet the demands of the service.

“Long waits, particularly in trauma and orthopaedics, do not support Airedale NHS Foundation Trust being the provider of choice for the local population.

“The ability to deliver additional theatre activity within existing resource is especially challenged as they cannot compel consultant surgeons to work outside their current contracts and deliver operating lists during evening and weekends unless by choice.”

Rob Aitchison, chief operating officer, said: “This development will expand and modernise our theatre capacity for orthopaedic and ophthalmology specialties.

“This will enable more procedures to be carried out by the hospital and improve the experience for our patients.

“This theatre redevelopment will help us respond to the current and future anticipated needs of our local population by ensuring that good quality access to local services is sustained.”

A decision on the application is expected in early March.