Health chiefs said resolving uncertainty surrounding surgery premises in Thornton and Denholme was a “number one” priority and gave assurances neither village would lose its GP services.

Neil Coulter, head of primary care contracting and Dr Damien Riley, medical director at NHS Airedale, Bradford, Leeds, attended a meeting of Bradford Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee to give an update to councillors about the provision of medical services for residents in the villages, progress to identify a long-term provider of services and the situation regarding the practice premises in Craven Avenue, Thornton, and Ann Street in Denholme.

Last April the district’s primary care trust appointed a temporary provider to run Thornton and Denholme Medical Practice after the former contractor Dr Abdul Rashid declined the offer of a contract extension, saying he believed funding levels were inadequate.

Shipley-based Westcliffe Medical Practice was appointed by NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds for a year and three bids for the ten-year contract have been considered. A decision is expected in the near future.

The meeting at City Hall heard how the premises are owned by former GPs and, to date, the landlords have been unable to agree between themselves who has the legal right to negotiate with the PCT.

Mr Coulter said the PCT had attempted to open negotiations with the landlords but had not been in a position to do so and it was now looking at all potential options in terms of premises, both in the long and short term.

“It is disappointing that we have not been able to come here today to say something firm about the premises situation but it is not something that we have been able to influence,” said Mr Coulter.

Despite the uncertainty about the lease of the premises Dr Riley said: “I give an absolute guarantee that GP services will always be centred in both Thornton and Denholme.”

Mrs Doreen Sheppard, chairman of the patient participation group at the practice, said: “I feel that the PCT is doing its best to sort out the premises issue.”

Melanie Milnes, of Thornton Community Partnership, said: “The premises issue is a real worry for people and I hope that common sense will prevail and there will be a resolution.”

Councillor Mike Gibbons, chairman of the committee, looked forward to a resolution of the premises issue.