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Protest over ward closure within minutes of decision

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 Northern Devon Healthcare Trust has a budget shortfall of £11 million Credit: ITV News

It's after a unanimous decision by board members of Northern Devon Healthcare Trust to close hospital wards in Bideford and Ilfracombe.

The protestors rallied within minutes of the vote Credit: ITV News

Doctors concerned over losing 'safety blanket' of community wards

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.

4-3
votes for and against halting the consultation process

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.

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Vote on ward closures underway

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.

Initital consultations looked at halving the number of community beds in North Devon Credit: ITV News

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?

  • Bideford
  • South Molton
  • Holsworthy
  • Ilfracombe

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.

It's after Northern Devon Healthcare Trust has a budget shortfall of £11 million.

RAF Sea Kings will fly from Chivenor base for one more week

Search and Rescue helicopters have been saving lives from their base at Chivenor for 60 years Credit: ITV News

Our reporter Seth Conway is spending the day with Search and Rescue helicopters in Chivenor and has some breaking news.

The RAF Sea Kings from twenty two Squadron were due to stop running today but ITV has learned they'll continue to operate for another week before the service is handed over to a private company.

It's a slight reprieve but it's still a sad moment for the community.

More on ITV West Country tonight at 6pm.

Statement Chivenor will continue to provide full helicopter search and rescue capability for a further period of around one week at the request of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency who asked for this continuance.

The option to provide a continuance of service has been part of the UK SAR Transition Planning programme for all of the 6 RAF SAR flights in the UK and this request will neither affect the level of SAR service across the region served by Chivenor, nor in any impede the future careers of RAF personnel serving at Chivenor.

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