It is brilliant news that Airedale Hospital is getting a full rebuild. As those who have been following the impressive campaign led by Robbie Moore, the neighbouring MP for Keighley and who I’ve been supporting, will already know the hospital is in need of urgent works. The confirmation these will now happen are vitally important to all those who use or work in the hospital, as many in Pendle do.
The background is that Airedale was built in 1970 using something called reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, known as RAAC. Buildings made with this are supposed to have a thirty-year lifespan and there have been roofs made from it that have collapsed, so it was important to make clear to Ministers how important it was that Airedale received investment.
That’s why last week’s announcement from the Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, that Airedale was one of those being added to the New Hospital Programme is so welcome. It will also help the hospital develop more state-of-the-art facilities and offer improved services to patients. This will build upon the new £16 million Intensive Care Unit that opened in the summer, which I helped secure funding for and was able to visit earlier this year. It’s hugely impressive, doesn’t need to use fossil fuels to run and has even won an award for its modern modular design.
Having seen significant investment into Burnley General since 2010, such as the £9 million Urgent Care Centre and £15.8 million Phase 8 development, I am pleased that we are seeing real improvements to the NHS infrastructure we all use in and around Pendle, helping to offset the regrettable loss of the Burnley A&E sixteen years ago.
Alongside the new diagnostic centres that have opened in recent months, and that are getting to work on reducing the backlog and waiting times, it is essential the NHS does receive the investment it needs. It and the incredible people who work in it went above and beyond during the pandemic. They need to be supported properly as we strive to get services back on track, which is happening but will inevitably take time.
The NHS is a priority for anyone who, like me, has needed it during difficult times. Securing investment like the rebuild of Airedale Hospital will continue to be a key focus of my work for Pendle.