Draft STP plan reveals health commissioners’ vision for the future

Major plans to re-model healthcare services in Devon have been revealed today (Thursday) – five months ahead of schedule.

Nearly 600 acute hospital beds in the county – one in six – could close and acute services in North Devon could go as part of the Wider Devon Sustainability and Transformation (STP) plan, set to be rolled out in April next year.

The draft – leaked to the BBC and seen by the Gazette – outlines plans to reduce the number of Devon hospitals offering current acute and specialist services – including at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) in Barnstaple.

A and E care would remain at NDDH but other acute services, such as paediatrics, maternity, neonatology, cardiovascular and stroke services could all be delivered in Plymouth and Exeter.

It suggests that current investment in community beds should also be cut in favour of community-centred care centred around the idea that ‘the best bed is my own bed’.

‘Need for change’

Protesters outside North Devon District Hospital today (Tuesday). Picture: Tony GussinProtesters outside North Devon District Hospital today (Tuesday). Picture: Tony Gussin

The Wider STP report – written by Angela Pedder, chief executive of Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust and lead by Northern, Eastern and Western (NEW) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – was submitted to NHS England on June 30 but not intended for public circulation until next January.

In a statement, she said: “Both CCGs have identified the challenges facing the health system in Devon and the need for change.

“The NHS and local authorities as a whole system are now working together to improve care through more integrated and locally tailored services and our plans will be formally communicated through the next version of the STP when it is published.”

The report outlines an ambitions strategy designed to help plug a predicted funding gap of £572m in 2020/21.

It says healthcare services in Devon are no longer clinically or financially sustainable, and that mental health services are not up to scratch.

The blueprint suggests that services should be closer to home and says there is an ‘over reliance’ on bed-based care. The STP plan is expected to be rolled out next April following public consultation and is estimated to deliver savings in the region of £85m in the first year alone.

CCG reacts to leak

North Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple. Picture: Tony GussinNorth Devon District Hospital, Barnstaple. Picture: Tony Gussin

A statement issued by NEW Devon CCG says more analysis and consideration was to be undertaken before a further submission is made in October.

It said: “The STP creates the opportunity for health and local authorities to work together and formulate plans to improve and secure the sustainability of services we deliver to people across Devon.

“The programme of work to review acute and specialised service across Devon will commence in October.”

You can read the full response here.

What do you think?

An estimated 500 people took part in a silent protest against cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple on Tuesday morning. Picture: Tony GussinAn estimated 500 people took part in a silent protest against cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple on Tuesday morning. Picture: Tony Gussin

What do you think about the proposed cuts to healthcare services in North Devon? Do you think moving services and cutting beds is the answer to plug the funding shortfall?

Send your thoughts to our newsdesk email, newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk or get involved in the debate on our Facebook page here.

You can also comment below and share your thoughts.