The fight to save community hospital beds from the axe will continue, according to Cumbria County council leader Stewart Young.

He has vowed to battle plans approved by the Success Regime and to find a way of maintaining them.

He believes the hospitals could play a key role in the future of social care in the county.

And he believes the appointment of Stephen Eames as the overall chief of health services in the county will help his campaign.

Mr Young said: “Plans to close community hospital beds will put demand on social care.

“That whole relationship between health and social care is absolutely crucial for us.

“Adult social care is the largest part of our budget by a long way and the pressures are increasing because of the demographics in Cumbria more than a lot of other places and the health service itself is facing massive reductions in funding.

“I had a meeting this week with senior health people in the county what we concluded was that we needed to come up with a Cumbrian solution in the absence of guidance from the government and find a way of working together between health and social care.”

Mr Eames is chief executive of the trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and has been appointed interim boss of the Cumbria Partnership, which runs community and mental health services across of Cumbria.

The move puts him in charge of the vast majority of health services in north Cumbria, plus some in the south and he is now overseeing the introduction of the Sustainability and Transformation plan (STP) to overhaul health in the county.

Mr Young said: “They have taken these decisions but we still think there is a different model that could address some of their concerns but still retain facilities in these communities.

“It is inconceivable to me that somewhere like Alston would lose that facility.

“The same applies at Wigton and Maryport.

“I’m interested in what happens at Haltwisstle which is a new build by the Northumberland health authority where they have combined health and social care into a single building.

“We are keen to talk to them about different models now that the Success Regime is out of the way.

“I think they might be open to that and it might be helpful that Stephen Eames is going to be chairing the partnership trust who run the community hospitals as well as the acute trust.”

Mr Eames is the lead for the West, North and East Cumbria Sustainability and Transformation Partnership which brings together health and care organisations in the area.

He said: “We are working very closely with Cumbria County Council, especially around the community hospitals in Alston, Maryport and Wigton where an alliance of the public, NHS and local authority staff are helping to develop health and care services for the future.

“We know that our communities have energy, enthusiasm and ideas and we are committed to working with them, and our local authority partners, as we move forward.

“There is a lot of work already happening to move services which don’t need to be in an acute hospital out into the community, and to develop what we are calling Integrated Care Communities where health and care services will become more joined up around the patient across north Cumbria.”