Brian Greenslade says a report suggest changes are already in the works – but the trust disputes this

A senior councillor says he fears cuts to North Devon’s health services are already ‘cut and dried’.

Barnstaple county councillor Brian Greenslade says despite no details yet emerging from the Success Regime review of services, it appeared changes were already in the works.

He refers to an April operational report from Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) that he says suggests ‘things are moving faster and further’ before councils or the public are made aware of them.

But the trust says this report and the Success Regime are two different things. The review is carried out by the Government-appointed Success Regime, working with NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NDHT to tackle a £440million deficit.

The review is being carried out by NEW (North, East and West) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in association with NDHT and others to try and identify £440million in savings.

It has neither confirmed nor denied what services might be affected, but NDHT chief executive Dr Alison Diamond has previously said there are ‘no red lines’ and there are fears locally Barnstaple A and E and acute services such as stroke and maternity could be affected.

Mr Greenslade said: “Fears have been expressed to me that the intention of the Success Regime is to reduce NDDH to the status of a large community hospital, with acute services being provided in Exeter,” he said.

“This is not aimed at the local trust, that does a good job with limited resources, it’s aimed at those who commission services and are implementing the Success Regime.”

He also said NEW Devon had the largest registered population of any CCG in the country, at 906,428, yet received up to 28 per cent less funding than others in England.

The operational report says: “The Case for Change presents 20 transformation opportunities for NEW Devon which will be incorporated into the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) and see the transformation of care in Devon by 2020.”

It also says the Success Regime work is supported by Carnall Farrar, a health management consultant, and ‘has identified significant operational and transformational changes that can be implemented in 2016/17… to deliver each organisation’s in-year targets, and deliver a sustainable future for the system’.

Mr Greenslade said: “My fear is things have already been decided, but not reported in the public domain and changes have already begun – if that is correct, that’s wrong.

“If we received fair funding there would not be a £440m defecit to tackle.”

But Dr Diamond said any significant changes will need public consultation and people will get the chance to have their say: “The Success Regime Case for Change was published in February and set out a clear picture of the challenges we face across Devon. The trust has considered these challenges when developing its operational plan for 2016/17.

“The Case for Change is not a consultation document in itself but provides the background to any plans that will require consultation. It is entirely appropriate the trust would use this to inform its own planning.”

* A non-political silent public protest is to be held outside NDDH on Tuesday, with marchers gathering at Pilton Park at 10am.