PRESSURE is being stepped up for a new Airedale Hospital to be built.

Fresh calls have been made for the existing, crumbling building to be replaced.

Plans for a new hospital were among an ambitious £1.7 billion-plus package of proposals put forward to the Government in 2021.

Forty hospitals have previously been selected for a rebuild, with a further eight to be announced in due course.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says structural engineers have advised that due to the age of the current building – opened in 1970 – and type of construction, it should be replaced by 2030.

Keighley Conservative MP Robbie Moore says he has recently held meetings with local and national healthcare leaders – including Government minister Steve Barclay, who is responsible for the new hospital programme – to press the case.

He adds: "Since I started my campaign for a full rebuild of Airedale Hospital I have held a personal debate in Parliament, used two Prime Minister’s Questions on the issue, attended numerous onsite meetings with the NHS trust and worked closely with it to develop plans for the new hospital. Last year I also attended a meeting at 10 Downing Street, where I presented the Prime Minister with a piece of aerated concrete to highlight its structural deficiencies.

"Now more than ever we need a new hospital, and over recent weeks I have been stepping up my campaign even further.

"I've made it clear to the Government that sticking plaster solutions are unacceptable."

Keighley's Labour parliamentary candidate, John Grogan, has visited the Steeton hospital to discuss the situation with senior management.

He will now brief the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Wes Streeting.

"The first thing I said when I was selected as a parliamentary candidate was that we must all work together across the political parties to get Airedale Hospital rebuilt – and I meant it," said Mr Grogan.

"If we fail, the hospital risks closure, as parts of the wards are literally crumbling. The best estimates are that we have until 2030 to get this done.

"Hopefully the initial green light will be given in this Parliament, but most of the money will be spent and the project delivered in the next.

"As we have seen recently, particularly regarding the proposed high speed rail link across the Pennines, promises made of infrastructure investment in the run up to an election are not always followed through. We will need a sustained campaign. The good news is that there is plenty of land available on the site for building, while maintaining services in the existing wards."

The need for a new hospital has also been raised at a full meeting of Bradford Council.

Keighley East councillor Caroline Firth, a stakeholder governor at the hospital, asked a question.

She said: "I am concerned about the large amount of reinforced autoclaves aerated concrete on the site and back the board's plea to the Government for a rebuild on the site. The hospital staff are working hard to keep patients safe and ensure the Government knows about the issue, including putting in a funding bid for a new state-of-the-art and environmentally-friendly hospital. Can you tell us what Bradford Council and the wider Act as One partnership is doing to support Airedale Hospital with this issue?"

In response, it was stated the council and Act as One are lobbying in support of the NHS trust to obtain the necessary funding.

The issue has been discussed too by North Yorkshire County Council’s scrutiny of health committee, which has agreed to write to the Secretary of State for Health voicing its concerns and pressing for funding.

Committee members were updated by a representative of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust.

Structural problems at the hospital are due to its construction, almost entirely, from a reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete.

Councillor Andrew Lee, the committee chair, said: "Airedale is one of several hospitals built in the late 1960s and early 1970s that has this form of concrete throughout its structure, and yet it is the only one that is not automatically receiving Government funding for a rebuild.

"Additionally, it is the only hospital in the country to have floors made of this concrete as well as the more common roof and walls, and the only hospital to have identified deficiencies in the main structural frame of the building. This hospital serves a population of 220,000 across 700 square miles of the Bradford district and Craven, and parts of East Lancashire and North Yorkshire.

"We appreciate that the country faces huge financial challenges at present, but the investment of capital funding to support the long-term future of Airedale Hospital, as has been done for other hospitals in a similar situation, is desperately needed."

Foluke Ajayi, chief executive of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, says "every step possible" is being taken to maintain a safe environment at the hospital.

She added: "The trust has submitted an expression of interest to secure a place on the Government's new hospital programme and is awaiting the outcome of this process.

"In the meantime, we are taking every step possible to maintain a safe environment for our patients, staff and visitors, so we can continue to provide high-quality health services for our community.

"This includes putting in structural supports and installing steel beams where necessary. A rolling programme of structural work is being carried out in all our wards, in addition to other remedial work taking place in other parts of the hospital."