WHARFEDALE patients waiting for a non-urgent operation at Airedale Hospital may not be treated until April.

Wharfedale Newspapers understands that Airedale Primary Care Trust has asked the hospital to "review" any operations without a date until the new financial year, because of financial difficulties.

According to the latest figures, Airedale PCT is set to finish the year overspent by £200,000. Airedale Hospital has notched up a £6million debt.

Maggie Helliwell, medical director for Airedale Primary Care Trust said yesterday: "Airedale PCT and Airedale Hospital are currently working together to meet all the national waiting list targets.

"Resources have to be managed carefully to make sure that we comply with both the clinical and financial requirements.

"It is important that we use our resources to ensure that we deliver the best services possible for all our patients.

"All patients who require emergency, urgent care and any cancer cases will be treated or operated on as a priority.

"Thereafter. our priorities will be patients who have been waiting the longest. Naturally, all patients who have a current date for their operation will be treated."

In a report to trust board members last month, director of finance Jonathan Coulter said: "We need to generate further savings of around £200,000 before the end of March in order to achieve financial balance."

Airedale General Hospital is based at Steeton, near Keighley and treats patients from a wide area.