A Westcountry hospital has been forced to temporarily shut its inpatient ward due to safety concerns surrounding a lift.
The closure at Tyrrell Hospital in Ilfracombe takes effect today and the ward could remain out of bounds for up to 12 weeks while a new system is designed and installed.
The Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust announced the decision to close yesterday afternoon.
Kate Lyons, the trust's director of operations, said: "Decisions like this are not taken lightly – and the safety of our patients is our number one priority.
"We have experienced problems with the lift during the past three weeks, which have led to one patient and three members of staff becoming stuck. Many of our patients and their relatives are elderly, so the lift is important for ease of access, as well as for the ambulance service for admissions and discharges.
"A number of attempts were made to rectify the problem but after these failed, a full risk assessment was carried out. Our experts were not confident in the lift's reliability, so we had to make this decision in the best interests of all concerned. We apologise for any disruption this temporary closure to inpatients may cause."
The Trust is liaising with GPs and commissioners to transfer the four inpatients currently in the ten-bed ward at Tyrrell to South Molton Hospital.
The ward will not reopen until the lift is fully operational.