THE health trust is to hold a meeting on Monday with Holsworthy councillors, doctors and others to discuss the future use of the town’s community hospital and services.

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Northern Devon Healthcare Trust said it had arranged to meet key individuals and groups in the area to discuss a range of issues around local community services

Although the initial meeting is a private one, the trust says it is keen for community representatives to understand the challenges it faces with the need to save £60 million during the next five years.

It is exploring a range of options for community health services– including the hospitals in Ilfracombe, South Molton and Torrington – which could involve changes to the number of beds, the way those beds are used or more emphasis on caring for patients at home.

The trust has just completed a round of early discussions with staff, highlighting the challenges and outlining the range of options being explored.

“We are now keen to involve the wider community in these discussions,” said chief executive Jac Kelly.

“We continually review our services to ensure we use taxpayers’ money to best effect. We have many years of experience in flexing beds up and down in our community hospitals to meet demand as it arises.

“At a time when our income is likely to stay flat while demand and costs rise, we simply have to do things differently to make sure we continue to provide the levels of care that our communities need.”

The trust says no decisions have been or will be made until staff and the public have been ‘fully engaged’ on the detail of proposals.

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