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  1. ITV Report

Hundreds march against community hospital closures

Protesters want a referendum on the closure of four community hospitals Photo: ITV News

Hundreds of protesters marched in Paignton calling for a referendum on controversial plans to close four community hospitals.

Campaigners say they want health bosses to reconsider plans to close Paignton, Dartmouth, Bovey Tracey and Ashburton & Buckfastleigh.

"We can't go on without a hospital. We need a central hospital in Paignton," said one protester. Another added, "it's a shame that everyone has to travel to Torbay for everything they need".

It comes after another 32 beds were axed from Torbay Hospital earlier this week - a move which has angered some residents who claim patient care is being put at risk.

South Devon MP Sarah Wollaston has voiced her concern about the cuts.

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The South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group say the current model doesn't meet the healthcare needs of the community.

It claims community hospitals are costly to run, so if they are taken out of the equation, more funds can be invested in improving the quality of care in people's homes:

"We mustn't forget that actually, the vast majority of money saved will be reinvested in providing support for patients in their own homes" said Dr Dave Greatorex, South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group.

"Our vision is to support more and more people to remain at home, or return quicker if they do need a hospital stay.

We have taken big steps towards achieving this with our decision to invest £3.9m in community services, including enhanced intermediate care, appointment of Wellbeing Coordinators and supporting the voluntary sector. Some of these services are now up and running and supporting more people to be at home. No community hospitals will close until we have the right community support in place to provide alternative care for people."

– Rob Dyer, Medical Officer for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust

Watch the full report by Duncan Sleightholme: