We have, for example, already seen the loss of community beds as a result of the acute services review and difficulties with staffing rural care provision. It has been extremely challenging for trusts to staff community hospitals that are under review and therefore have an uncertain future; this has meant that maternity beds have had to be closed “temporarily”. What that review did at least do is underline the need to retain much of the current acute provision on all the Devon sites due to geography.
The need to save money across Devon remains a priority, and Devon STP is under a great deal of pressure from NHS England to meet a tight saving schedule. I attended the STP support services review meeting recently and learnt that the STP is required to save a considerable amount of money on support service costs over two years – last year the STP area spent £87m on these functions.
They are suggesting rationalising a raft of ‘back office’ functions, which I do not believe will meet the required savings and the limited saving will not be achieved in the time frame dictated - a point I have made to the STP.
All of the organisations in the STP are having problems recruiting registered nurses and they need to work together to find solutions. The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust is going abroad to recruit but we know this is not a long term solution as overseas staff do not tend to stay.
I have a seat of the local workforce action board (LWAB) but it is currently being reviewed because it wasn’t working. This in no small part because it was working disjointed from the clinical group who are looking at patient pathways. This work must be joined up and the STP is redesigning the groups so that they are which is a positive move.