Commissioning group doctors says the current set up ‘not the best use of available resources’

The decision has been taken to cut community hospital beds in North Devon by almost half.

They will be reduced from 74 to 40 and hospitals that could be affected are South Molton, Ilfracombe, Bideford and Holsworthy.

The decision was made on Wednesday at a local board meeting of the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group.

It said at this stage there had been no decision on where beds might be lost but a full scale public consultation is expected to begin around September.

The CCG said doctors on the board had agreed the current set up of community services was not the best use of the available resources.

“We’ve heard a clear message from local people, organisations and clinicians through our consultation and engagement that people want to remain in their own homes wherever possible,” said board chairman Dr John Womersley.

“We know some patients need to be looked after in community hospitals but at the moment we have more beds than we need.”

The board said it had agreed to invest in community based services such as nursing, therapy, day care and outpatient services, primary care and support to the voluntary and community sector.