The pioneering work being carried out at Airedale General Hospital is at the “cutting edge for the whole country”, according to senior Government minister on a visit to the hospital.

Secretary of State for health Jeremy Hunt singled out the Steeton hospital’s innovative approach to caring for patients with long-term health problems.

Mr Hunt visited the hospital yesterday to see how staff supported patients with dementia and long-term conditions.

The MP for South West Surrey toured the hospital’s Telehealth Hub and a ward designed for people with dementia.

“I wanted to see some of the things happening at Airedale which are at the cutting edge for the whole of the country,” he said. “I’m incredibly impressed by the technology here which can really help people live healthily. There’s a strong culture of care and compassion at Airedale, which is something that is very much in the minds of the public at the moment.

“There is also some pioneering work going on here around the sharing of patient records between GP surgeries.”

Mr Hunt saw how patients could have consultations with health professionals from the comfort of their home or local GP surgery via secure video link technology.

In ward one, he heard how older patients with dementia are benefiting from special crockery and a system where butterfly symbols are included by beds and on the notes of people with dementia.

The symbols help staff identify people with dementia, so they know they will need extra care and additional help at meal times.

Mr Hunt was also told about the hospital’s dignity room. This was set up to provide free items such as slippers, warm clothing and toiletries to those patients admitted to hospital without their own possessions.

Keighley MP Kris Hopkins, who joined the Secretary of State on his visit, said: “The staff here are dedicated and proud of their hospital and that comes out in everything they do. They are a real credit to their town.”

Dr Andrew Catto, medical director of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to show Mr Hunt some of our work which demonstrates real improvements in care for our patients – particularly for those with dementia and long-term conditions.”