Fears over '40 hospital bed cuts' in Somerset

A patient group is opposing what it claims are plans to cut up to 40 beds from community hospitals in Somerset.

The League of Friends at Shepton Mallet Community hospital said it understood 17 beds could go there and a further 23 at other community hospitals.

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said it was in the early stages of a review.

A Trust spokesman said more discussions would take place before firm proposals were put forward.

Patient groups fears bed cuts could lead to longer patient recovery times.

'Halfway house'

Chair of the League of Friends, Albert Owen, said: "Before Christmas there were at least four to six people who all needed the second stage of treatment. They'd been to the RUH to have the emergency treatment and came back to Shepton for the next stage - it's a halfway house.

"To get those services that are available in a hospital back to the home would be more costly than having the beds and personally I feel they would not get the staff to do that so to do that seems to be an impossibility."

An NHS spokesman said that "bed numbers now more accurately reflect the actual patient demand upon them".

He said: "There is expected to be resources freed up by the inpatient bed reduction and talks are taking place about how this can be used to develop extra (non-patient) services at the hospital."

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