NHS in Devon says acute services will remain at North Devon District Hospital but other Devon services may be reviewed

A Barnstaple councillor has said he is still worried about the future of acute services at North Devon District Hospital.

Brian Greenslade quizzed a NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) representative at a Devon County Council meeting.

He asked how the commitment to keep A and E, maternity and stroke services at the NDDH could be reconciled while they were being pressed by the NHS to cut spending.

He said: "The CCG representative accepted there was an issue and that other acute services at the NDDH may well be affected in order to square the circle."

Mr Greenslade also wanted to know if the feared Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) had been scrapped.

A spokesperson for the NHS in Devon told the Gazette STPs had changed their name nationally to 'Sustainability and Transformation Partnership' to reflect how organisations were working together, but it was still a five year plan.

One of the original aims of the STP was to find savings of around £550m in Devon by 2020 and according to the NHS spokesperson, more than £100m of savings were made in 2016/17.

They said North Devon, Exeter, Plymouth and Torbay were working together with a 'mutual support agreement' to ensure that key services could continue at all four hospital.

They added that NHS England had hailed this approach as 'an exemplar of joint working'.

But they said: "The first clinical phase of the Devon Acute Services Review recognised the importance of urgent stroke, emergency care and maternity services continuing at North Devon District Hospital.

"We have always been transparent that other hospital services across Devon would be reviewed at a later stage.

"The plan has also helped Devon move into the top 20 per cent in England for performance in emergency care, cancer treatment and mental health, for example. It is not correct to suggest the STP has been replaced.

"There are huge challenges facing the NHS, which have seen demand increase by 50 per cent over the past decade. The STP is our five year plan and is a vital element in addressing these."

But Mr Greenslade said: "My fear is that the 'deck chairs' are being rearranged on the deck without proper public scrutiny being carried out."