Six Torridge district councillors have written an open letter criticising proposals to cut hospital beds across North Devon.

Six Torridge district councillors have expressed 'grave concerns' over a 'flawed' consultation on proposals to cut hospital beds in North Devon.

In an open letter, Cllrs Betty Boundy, Margaret Brown, Ken Carroll, Philip Hackett, Ian Parker and Jane Whittaker said they had 'no confidence' in the consultation.

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHT) is consulting on which 34 out of 74 community beds currently in Bideford, Holsworthy and South Molton community hospitals to close.

The councillors' letter said they were concerned about the 'strength of representations' from town and parish councils affected: "It is abundantly clear that sufficient evaluation has not taken place into the wider implications of closing inpatient beds in community hospitals, especially in locations further away from the main North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) in Barnstaple."

Cllr Whittaker added: "I believe much damage has been done to the credibility of the NDHT with the public outcry after the bed closures in Torrington. It will be eroded completely should this ever changing and rushed process go any further."

The Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW CCG) has 'temporarily paused' its consultation on the future of community services and seeing more people cared for at home in North Devon.

A NEW CCG spokesman said: "The CCG was concerned that combining the two issues would complicate the process and has therefore paused its consultation."

NDHT said it was constrained by a financial time period, whereas the CCG's process was ongoing.

An NDHT spokesman said: "It will take around four weeks to implement any changes, and we are therefore confident there is sufficient time to establish services that are both safe and effective, and within the budget derived from our contract settlement."

More than 6,000 people have signed a petition to save local hospital beds.

Among the signatures collected, campaign group 38 Degrees said nearly 200 were taken in consultations in Barnstaple on Saturday and 1,000 in Holsworthy on Thursday.

The next event is at Stucley Hall in Bideford College at 3.30pm, 5pm and 6.30pm tomorrow (Thursday).