A health trust head has suggested a link-up of services between Otley’s Wharfedale Hospital and Ilkley’s Coronation Hospital.

NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds chief executive John Lawlor told Bradford Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday the likelihood of an Ilkley cottage hospital rebuild in the next three to five years was “very slim”.

But he said the fact that services at the valley’s two hospitals were provided by separate trusts should not preclude talks on working together to provide services.

Mr Lawlor, who heads the newly-combined primary care trust cluster for Leeds and Bradford, admitted his view might prove controversial.

“We shouldn’t fail to look at whether there is a synergy between the Coronation and Wharfedale Hospital in Otley,” he said.

Mr Lawlor said a “critical mass of staff and patients” was needed in order to deliver services.

He was asked to give an update on the promised multi-million pound Coronation Hospital rebuild by committee chairman, Ilkley ward councillor, Mike Gibbons (Con). He replied that the current state of NHS and public sector finances, as well as the NHS reforms going through Parliament, meant the scheme was on hold.