Community beds have been opened in Holsworthy thanks to the efforts of a town action group.

The beds at Deer Park Care Home are available for people at the end of life and those with intensive rehabilitation needs.

With inpatient beds at Holsworthy Hospital remaining temporarily closed, the NHS has been working with Holsworthy Community Involvement Group (HCIG) to ensure the area has the right health and care services.

With end of life bedded care recognised as a priority, the NHS partnered with Holsworthy Health Care to provide beds at the home.

The beds are intended for people from Holsworthy and the surrounding parishes. The home will set aside three beds for the exclusive use of the NHS, and care will be free to all NHS patients.

Christine Headdon cuts the ribbon at Deer Park.Christine Headdon cuts the ribbon at Deer Park.

Patients will be supported by Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust's (NDHT) community nursing and therapy teams, with support from Devon Doctors and NDHT's out-of-hours team.

Gary Patch, who is part of the NHS community services team at NDHT, said: "Holsworthy's rural and remote location presents specific challenges for delivering health care services.

"To find the right answers we need to think a little differently and provide unique solutions.

"Providing bedded care at Deer Park is one of the ways we can do this."

Councillor John Hutchings and Geoffrey Cox MP with staff from Deer Park and NDHT.Councillor John Hutchings and Geoffrey Cox MP with staff from Deer Park and NDHT.

Councillor Jon Hutchings, former Holsworthy mayor and a member of the HCIG, welcomed the announcement.

"We haven't had NHS beds in Holsworthy for some time so this is really significant for local people," he said.

"It's a practical, short-term solution that means people can spend their final days or receive intensive rehabilitation near their loved ones.

"Longer-term we also need a solution. Our local group continues to work really well with the NHS as we tackle the longer-term challenge of getting services right for our community."

Inpatient beds at Holsworthy Hospital were temporarily closed in March 2017, with problems recruiting medical and nursing staff meaning they remain closed today.

Mr Patch said: "One of our main requirements for reopening the beds at Holsworthy Hospital is for safe medical cover to be in place followed by a full complement of nursing staff.

"Obtaining cover has proved to be difficult to achieve quickly because we are experiencing staffing difficulties right across the NHS and this isn't something that can be solved easily.

"We hope the interim beds at Deer Park Care Home will go some way to meet the immediate needs of the people locally as we continue to do our best to open the beds."