HOSPITAL beds at South Molton and Bideford have been closed and transferred to others in the region because not enough nurses can be recruited to fill the gaps, health bosses have said. Northern Devon Healthcare Trust said despite the closures there has b

HOSPITAL beds at South Molton and Bideford have been closed and transferred to others in the region because not enough nurses can be recruited to fill the gaps, health bosses have said.Northern Devon Healthcare Trust said despite the closures there has been no change to the number of beds available to patients across North Devon as a whole.It was responding to a statement by North Devon MP Nick Harvey, who said the closures were due to staff shortages and funding problems, leading to reduced options for GPs and unwelcome pressure on other resources.It said eight had been temporarily closed in South Molton, with a further four closed in Bideford, but Holsworthy Hospital had gained an extra four, while Ilfracombe and Alex Ward in Barnstaple had received two more each.The Bideford beds have been closed to "allow nursing and therapy staff to concentrate on providing intensive rehabilitation and therapy to patients recovering from strokes" said a trust statement.But the trust said for a long time it has had difficulty filling nursing vacancies at South Molton and was relying heavily on agency nursing.This meant patients did not get continuity of care, seeing different people each time, whilst temporary staff might not also be fully aware of the processes for accessing local health or social care services."The trust regularly introduces small increases or decreases to the number of beds in each hospital to ensure our services are safe for patients," said a spokesman."This ability to 'flex' beds across the trust also ensures we can meet constantly changing demand."The Complex Care Team - social care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, district nursing and the voluntary sector - is relocating to South Molton Hospital. The team works to support people, allowing them to recover in their own homes, stay independent and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.The trust says it has written to all GP practices in the South Molton area regarding the changes.Efforts to recruit are continuing and anyone who would like to find out more about nursing vacancies can call the trust recruitment team on (01271) 322577.