Commissioners are set to decide today whether to reduce beds at Ilfracombe, South Molton, Bideford and Holsworthy.

The health service is proposing to reduce the number of community hospital beds in North Devon by almost half, if a decision is approved today (Wednesday).

At its local board meeting, commissioners of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG) are set to recommend bed numbers be reduced from 74 to 40.

That would include hospitals at Ilfracombe, South Molton, Bideford and Holsworthy.

The CCG said the service needed to be 'rebalanced' and it believes more care could be offered in people's own homes so fewer beds were needed.

"Outcomes for people receiving care at home are safe and high quality, and a clear message we took from our engagement with the community was that people wanted to remain in their own homes whenever possible," said a spokesman.

"We therefore believe the right thing to do is to have the correct number of beds to meet the clinical needs of patients, both now and for the future. The money saved by reducing bed numbers will be reinvested into community services.

"Reducing the number of beds will not represent an overall reduction in service, but will allow resources to go further to treat and care for more people.

"It is important to note that we recognise we cannot reconfigure the current set up of the beds until we have the appropriate community services in place."

It said once a decision had been made about the number of beds, the next stage would be to determine where they will be located.