Campaigners raise fears that North Devon’s accident and emergency department is at risk - and healthcare bosses don’t deny it.
Healthcare bosses cannot confirm if Accident and Emergency services at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) are under threat.
It comes as the publication of the Success Regine, The Case for Change report, outlines a change in services for the region.
The report states local health and social services cannot continue to provide care as they do now.
It states: “Some services need to be centralised to provide better access to highly trained specialists and specialist equipment but services also need to be provided as locally and accessibly as possible, given limited resources.”
Health campaigners, the Save The Irreplaceable Torrington Community Hospital (STITCH) group, released a statement yesterday (Tuesday) claiming the A&E department is at risk.
It said: “It has emerged that the North Devon District Hospital is being lined up for the removal of its acute services such as accident and emergency and obstetrics.
“The suggestion is that it is likely to be re-organised as a community hospital.
“This has all the elements of the removal of the Torrington Community Hospital beds writ large.
“We believe that the very future of the North Devon District Hospital is at stake.”
The Case for Change report said senior doctors were only present in A&Es in north, east and west Devon 12-16 hours a day.
It said local hospitals are finding it difficult to provide care for the small number of the most seriously ill people, and stated: “Specialist services need to be configured so there is sufficient workforce to continue to provide high quality services.
“This needs to be balanced against the need to provide local access to services, where possible.”
When contacted by the Gazette, a spokesman for the NHS in Northern, Eastern and Western Devon could not confirm or deny this claim.
He said: “The Success Regime ‘case for change’ was published in February and set out a clear picture of the challenges we face across Devon.
“While it is absolutely the case that services are likely to need to change in future, since February we have been reviewing with clinicians, Healthwatch, and partner organisations the information and evidence presented in the ‘case for change’.
“This work is ongoing and it is too early to talk about specific options.”
The spokesman said a number of services ‘may not be sustainable in their current form in the future’.
He added: “We are at the beginning of a process and working together across the NHS and social care, to develop a programme to ensure we are able to deliver clinically and financially sustainable care for people across Devon not just now but for a long way into the future.
“This will build on some of the work we have undertaken previously around our proposals for Transforming Community Services and further engagement with local people will see new models of care will emerge.
“Financially, the NHS in our area is living beyond its means, so we also need to address that. We are starting a patient engagement programme next month and this will begin by looking in detail at the issues the ‘case for change’ has raised.”