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Protestors calling themselves 'A March to Save Hospital Beds' have rallied outside Bideford hospital this lunchtime within minutes of the news that the impatient ward there is to shut.
It's after a unanimous decision by board members of Northern Devon Healthcare Trust to close hospital wards in Bideford and Ilfracombe.
There's been a unanimous decision by board members of Northern Devon Healthcare Trust to close hospital wards in Bideford and Ilfracombe.
They will keep open Holsworthy and South Molton.
Too much too soon?
The New Devon Clinical Commissioning Group which funds NHS services has told Northern Devon Healthcare Trust that it doesn't support its decision to close any wards or units as the process is happening too quickly.
Devon County Council's Health and Wellbeing scrutiny committee also voted 4-3 for a halt in the consultation process. But the decision on closure remains with the Healthcare Trust.
Not enough beds?
Senior clinicians have also told managers that they have extreme anxiety about the closure of beds.
Doctors and consultants are worried that there are not enough beds at North Devon District Hospital and the community wards have been seen as a 'safety blanket'.
But health bosses believe that they will have strategies in place this winter to cope and that wards at Holsworthy and South Molton can increase beds at short notice if needed due to any crisis.
Health managers at Northern Devon Healthcare Trust are meeting now to decide if wards at some community hospitals should close. The Trust had suggested providing a new community ward at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple instead.
This morning the Trust board is expected to vote on closing wards in Bideford and Ilfracombe. The hospitals would all remain open for other services. A decision is anticipated by 11.30am.
Which wards were considered?
- South Molton
The public consultation found that people preferred the option of keeping open wards at Holsworthy and South Molton. More than half of all respondents to the consultation came from the Holsworthy area.
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