Health bosses should be prepared for local hospitals being downgraded or closed altogether, a health board member has said.

Councillor Simon Cooke, whose Bingley Rural ward includes Cullingworth and Denholme, described the thorny issue as not yet being the elephant in the room but instead the “giraffe on the patio”. At a meeting of the Bradford and Airedale Health and Wellbeing Board, of which he is a member, he asked how the board would act if a particular health service needed reconfiguring.

He said: “What happens when we have to do that?

“I think the biggest challenge that faces us is what if we decide that actually we don’t need three hospitals, what we actually need is one and a half, with some satellites.

“That may not be the case, but if we are going to be strategic about the health and wellbeing in Bradford we have got to be prepared.

“I know how difficult it is to close down just a little bit of a hospital, let alone anything else.

“But we have got to look at whether or not we need to reconfigure services in Bradford. That’s the giraffe on the patio.”

Helen Hirst, of Bradford City and Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Groups, said Bradford’s health system hadn’t yet started a major reconfiguration, unlike those in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, where bodies created in last year’s health reforms were having to take over.