A retired senior consultant said he fears for the future of North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) following the cancellation of its ear, nose and throat (ENT) services. John Riddington-Young said he was deeply saddened to hear of the closure of the department he worked in for 34 years. Northern Devon Healthcare Trust says a shortage of doctors has led to the temporary cancellation of the service for up to six months, with patients now having to travel to Exeter for appointments. Mr Riddington-Young, 68, said: This could mark a serious deterioration in the whole status of NDDH as a credible hospital. A domino effect is likely. Anaesthetists will not want to come and work at a hospital where there is no experience in ENT surgery, and the Royal College of Anaesthetists would then withdraw their recognition of NDDH as a training centre. Mr Riddington-Young, who also served 33 years with the regular and Territorial Army, is well-known for his outspoken views on the way the NHS is managed and he has written two books on the subject. He continued: I feel sure the excellent doctors and nurses who work at the hospital will be saddened by this. I know that nobody feels this sad loss for North Devon more than me. To see the department which I had built up for over 30 years to be thrown away in this incompetent manner is heartbreaking. The trust has said it has been hit by a shortage of senior ENT doctors and the service was not viable. Patients will have to visit the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for emergency and elective ENT inpatient care; suspected cancer referral; head and neck surgery; and out-of-hours emergency ENT services. Appointments with clinical nurse specialists; speech and language therapists and dietitians; audiology services (including hearing tests, hearing aid support and screening); oral and maxillofacial surgery; and radiology will continue to be provided at NDDH.