A BID to transfer beds back to Portland Hospital has been made by South Dorset MP Richard Drax.

He has asked for a meeting with Health Secretary Matt Hancock to discuss the future of the community hospital.

It comes after a demonstration was held at the hospital at the weekend with campaigners calling for services to be retained there.

Speaking during health questions in Parliament, Mr Drax said: “Would my Right Honourable Friend agree with me that one of the vital components to ensure the long term future of the NHS is community hospitals and would he meet me to discuss what can be done to recruit more qualified staff so that beds at Portland Community Hospital can be reopened?”

Mr Hancock said he would be “very happy” to attend a meeting, stating: "Community hospitals have got a vital role to play in the future of the NHS as more care is delivered closer to home.”

Mr Drax said afterwards: “Portland’s 18 beds were transferred to Weymouth’s Westhaven Hospital last August, due to the difficulty in finding enough qualified nursing staff to run them. Despite having the budget to employ enough nurses, Portland’s location, combined with the national shortage of nurses, meant the beds were lost.

“Nationally, we are 40,000 nurses short and while there are great efforts afoot to train, recruit and retain more, Portland has fallen victim to the problem. I will not hesitate to do what I can to call the Government’s attention to this crisis.

“We are all agreed that it is crucial that good health and social care services are delivered on Portland in the future and the community hospital has an important role to play.”