Acute services are currently provided for the people of Devon by our four major hospitals in Barnstaple, Exeter, Plymouth and Torbay. We need to take steps now to make sure our acute hospital services are fit for the future and provide best care for the people of Devon, care that is safe, high-quality, effective and affordable.
We know there are some acute services that are not consistently achieving the best standards of care for Devon when compared to best practice elsewhere and we also need to look at those smaller services, such as ENT (ear, nose and throat) which are currently vulnerable to external challenges (i.e. workforce shortages) and at risk of becoming unsustainable.
This does not mean that Devon’s hospitals are providing sub-standard care – indeed, many of them are high-performing with good outcomes for the people of Devon. However hospitals in Devon are spending more than they receive in funding and we spend a significant amount on locum and agency staff. With no action, the overspend will be £305 million by 2021 and some services may not have enough of the workforce, or workload that they need to maintain current levels of quality and safety. Technology has also moved on so that there are opportunities to improve care by providing it in a different way, which may also mean that it is better provided in a different location.