A BRADFORD health chief has spoken of why a new hospital for the city is so important.

Mel Pickup, chief executive of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said current buildings, while robust, were designed to deliver care in a different era.

She said: “It doesn’t match with our expectations as people who work in that environment, or people who use services in that environment anymore.

“If you come to Bradford from another part of the country and find yourself in hospital, you might walk into, ostensibly what is a nightingale ward with therefore very little privacy, not enough single rooms, not all the modern equipment and environment that you would expect and you will probably be quite shocked, as I was quite shocked when I came here, to see some of the vestiges of the hospital still in operation as clinical units.

“We need a new hospital. This building [Bradford Royal Infirmary] is no longer fit for purpose in delivering modern healthcare.”

She added: “Why shouldn’t we have a new hospital? That was the question I asked. Why shouldn’t Bradford have a new hospital, why isn’t there a plan already to lobby and to put forward arguments that we need a new hospital.

“There wasn’t then, but there is now. We have put together a strategic outline case that we have forwarded to the Government to say ‘Bradford needs a new hospital’.”

The plan is part of a joint bid which would see Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital replaced with a single site purpose-built hospital, Airedale Hospital re-built on its current site and Lynfield Mount rebuilt to develop a new acute inpatient facility.

Prof Pickup said: “My vision for this is it wouldn’t look like an hospital at all. “The problem with many hospitals, and indeed Bradford, for a long time is the idea that a hospital is a ‘repair centre’ and it’s somewhere you come when you are sick to get repaired and you get repaired hopefully and you go away again.

“I don’t think the building should be the beginning and end of that experience. The offer for healthcare in Bradford should be a much more seamless and integrated offer where our clinicians, of course they are eminently able to repair people, to make them better, to deal with symptoms, but I want them to also be interested in ‘what’s caused those things in the first place?’

“What can we as clinicians do to stop people coming into hospital. It seems an odd thing for a hospital to want to do, but I really want us to do that.”

Prof Pickup highlighted how Bradford is a major player when it comes to health research, leading on a national scale and, in some instances, a global scale.

She said: “I’ve got some of the finest brains in this institution that know exactly what it is that makes people ill, why shouldn’t we be sharing that knowledge and that expertise into our communities to have conversations that might change lifestyle, behaviours, diet choice, all the things that happen out of hospital, that ultimately lead to people being ill.”

She added: “If you live in Bradford, you’re four times more likely to get heart disease than the average place in the UK, you’re four times more likely to get cancer, so if we know what causes cancer and we know what causes heart disease and we have the expertise to make people better when they get it, why aren’t we trying to stop people getting it? So I think there’s a role for the hospital in that.

“If you think about services in that way, it leads you to a different sort of hospital. I think that leads you to somewhere, of course that has to fulfil its responsibilities to make really sick people better, but I think it also needs to fulfil the role of being an asset for the community it sits within.

“A place where people can come to learn about how to remain well, to access services earlier, to be a focal point for the community.”

Prof Pickup believes there is a strong case for Bradford to move to the next stage of the bid and build a more detailed business case which will look at design and where it would be best placed.

And if a new hospital doesn’t come along? Work will continue to bring old facilities up modern standards, but Prof Pickup said: “It’s a very expensive way of doing it, when you have to look at the whole site, and it will take an awful long time because it will be done within a limited budget every single year, so it won’t happen for 20-30 years, whereas a new hospital could be open in 10 years.”