AIREDALE Hospital has revealed plans to build a helipad at the site.

Medical chiefs say the move will speed-up lifesaving treatment for patients and free-up ambulance crews.

Currently, air ambulances have to land in fields at the bottom of the Steeton site.

Patients are then transferred by land ambulance to the hospital’s emergency department.

“This results in prolonged transfers which are not ideal for patients in need of urgent care,” said Airedale emergency consultant, Dr David Driver. “It also ties-up an ambulance crew.

“With a proper helipad we could ensure these transfers are more efficient, enabling a greater number of patients to get faster treatment.”

The helipad would be situated on an elevated deck over the existing car park next to the emergency department.

A £1.25 million donation towards the cost of the scheme is being provided by the HELP Appeal, a charity dedicated to funding NHS hospital helipads.

Airedale NHS Foundation Trust’s own charities will fundraise to bring in the remaining £500,000 needed.

Details of the project are currently being finalised and anyone wishing to share feedback ahead of a planning application being submitted should email

Dr Driver, who has worked on the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, adds: “Our location at the edge of the Dales means that often the air ambulance is the only or fastest way to get injured or unwell patients to urgent care in an emergency. Those patients need treatment as soon as possible and it is better for them if they can be brought here, rather than enduring the longer trip to a hospital elsewhere.

“The new helipad will also help Embrace, the regional paediatric and neonatal transfer service, to take sick babies and children to specialist treatment centres such as Sheffield and Leeds using the dedicated children’s air ambulance.

“Currently the Embrace air ambulance lands at the Millennium Business Park in Steeton, meaning a poorly child has to be transferred by ambulance to the business park. An onsite helipad would mean that children could be transferred directly into the air ambulance.”

The health trust’s chief executive, Brendan Brown, said the helipad would bring huge benefits.

He added: “This application signals our ambition to transform our hospital into a modern healthcare facility which reflects the healthcare needs of our communities. This is a first step along a longer journey which I hope will see us being able to significantly rebuild our ageing estate, modernising the hospital and maximising its sustainability.

“We are lucky to be based on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, an area which attracts people into the landscape. Inevitably accidents occur and emergencies arise in the remoter areas of our patch, so being able to provide swifter access via helicopter to outstanding emergency care will be a huge benefit for everyone who lives in, works in and visits this part of the world.”

The plans are supported by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance service.

Chairman Peter Sunderland said: “Provision of a primary landing site at any hospital the helicopters land at is key to our operations.

“Airedale currently offers a secondary landing site which means we then have to arrange a road ambulance to meet the helicopter and transfer the patient the final leg of the journey to the A&E department. This is time-consuming and could potentially delay vital treatment the patient needs. A helipad at Airedale Hospital would be a most welcome addition for our crew, reducing the transfer time of the patient to A&E significantly.”

Robert Bertram, chief executive of the HELP Appeal, said it was delighted to be supporting the scheme.