Beds to close at Torrington hospital next week

Local people make their feelings known at a rally opposing the changes held in July.

Local people make their feelings known at a rally opposing the changes held in July. - Credit: Archant

Patients to be treated in their own homes as part of six-month pilot.

Local people make their feelings known at a rally opposing the changes held in July.

Local people make their feelings known at a rally opposing the changes held in July. - Credit: Archant

OVERNIGHT beds at Torrington Community Hospital are set to close next week as part of a six-month trial scheme to treat patients in their own homes.

The pilot began on October 1 but the six hospital beds retained during an eight week period of public consultation will now close on Tuesday. They are expected to remain closed until at least March 31 next year.

Patients needing community hospital admission will be offered a choice of Holsworthy, Bideford or South Molton.

Figures show that there have been five admissions to Torrington hospital since July 4, and three since the start of October. There is currently one in-patient in the hospital.

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Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust say between 180 and 200 Torrington patients have been supported in their own homes during the same period.

The Trust considers that at an average of one in-patient per month, it a safe to temporarily close the beds.

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But with winter approaching, campaigners have urged chief executive Jac Kelly to delay the closures until next spring.

Margaret Brown, chairman of Save Torrington’s Irreplaceable Cottage Hospital (STITCH), said: “I can’t comprehend why a hospital should be closing at this time of year – it just adds to all the worry for the old and vulnerable.

“The care packages needed do take time to put in place and that is where cottage hospitals would come in handy.

“Over 75s now have to be allocated their own doctor and that is also going to change things. I think now is the time to draw back and keep the beds open until April.

“It would only be for a matter of a few weeks, and would relieve the anxiety already building up in our community.”

But Dr Chris Bowman, vice-chairman of the Northern Locality, CCG said no permanent decisions had been made.

“We have been clear throughout that the beds will reopen if the test of change is not successful. The in-patient staff remain on substantive contracts, with Torrington as their base,” he said.

“We are following the appropriate due engagement and involvement process and would encourage people to take the time to get involved and ensure their voice is heard.”

The Trust is exploring a new role for the hospital, which could become a hub for a range of service currently only offered in other towns such as Barnstaple.

Additional outpatient clinics, day treatments, memory café, maternity services and chemotherapy are among the ideas already suggested.

Kate Lyons, the Trust’s director of operations, said: “We have been extremely encouraged by the ideas we have received from people.

“People have voiced their frustration at having to go to North Devon District Hospital for all NHS services and this feedback will influence which services could be provided from Torrington in future.

“While the inpatient beds are closed, we will pilot additional services based from the hospital and add feedback from these services into the six-month evaluation.”

The Trust said it would be publishing data and evaluation of the trail at regular points throughout the six months. Visit for more information.

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