A consultation is underway to decide where the axe will fall on North Devons hospital beds. The NHS is seeking to cut beds at community hospitals across the area from 74 to 40, potentially affecting Ilfracombe, South Molton, Bideford and Holsworthy. The public part of the consultation begins in August, but before that health staff, councillors, friends groups and other local representatives will get to have their say. The decision to cut the beds was taken by Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), but it has asked Northern Devon Healthcare Trust to guide and run the consultation. As part of its Care Closer to Home plan, the CCG believes more patients can be cared for at home, with money from bed closures reinvested in community services. The NDHT board will hear recommendations on where to cut beds in September and it will pass on its preferred options to the CCG. Dr Alison Diamond, trust chief executive, said they were keen to support joined up services as close to home as possible. These discussions will sometimes be difficult but were asking people to engage with us, understand why the consultation is happening and help us make the best decision for our local community, she said. We are committed to working in partnership with local communities to determine the location of the beds, following an open and thorough consultation process. Exact details on how the public can take part in the consultation have yet to be released.