Healthcare trust allays fears over management transfer

Northern Devon Healthcare Trust responds to residents outcry.

NORTHERN Devon Healthcare Trust wants to allay fears over the management transfer of community hospitals in East Devon following an outcry by residents over the lack of consultation.

The healthcare trust has responded to comments made by local residents in last week’s Midweek Herald. People feared the change would see health services being moved out of local control.

Responsibility for community hospitals in East Devon, including Honiton, Axminster and Seaton, was transferred to the Northern Devon Healthcare Trust (NDHCT) on April 1 from Devon Primary Care Trust, NHS Devon, following a decision by NHS Devon and local GPs last October.

The Northern Devon trust now manages all community health services in the area, including district nursing and physical therapies.

Richard Anderson, NDHCT’s deputy assistant director for health and social care, said: “This isn’t about managers in North Devon taking over our local health services. We still have the same local managers as before, like me, making decisions locally.

“It is just that we are now within a framework of one organisation. It is really important for local residents to understand this.”

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He said funding for East Devon was ring-fenced and would be allocated according to the service and patient needs in each local area.

Mr Anderson added: “Part of the reason this Trust was given responsibility for our community health services is because it has an excellent track record in running them.

“We are still managing our services here in East Devon locally - the priority has been, and always will be, to ensure services meet the needs of our local community.

“I live and work in East Devon. My family, my friends and I all use these facilities, so I have a very big stake in ensuring we do a good job.”

The decision to transfer services from NHS Devon came from an earlier Government decision to stop health trusts from operating both commissioning and provider services - ensuring a health trust can’t buy and provide health services. It was part of a programme called Transforming Community Services.

In a statement, NDHCT said that a public consultation was not required by the Government as actual services would not be affected.

However, it said the PCT talked to a wide range of stakeholder groups to gather opinion on the way forward, including elected representatives from the town and district councils, MPs, hospital Leagues of Friends, health organisations and GPs.

NHS Devon still exists, but as a commissioner of health services.

Mr Anderson added: “We have a very positive future ahead of us and the health and social care teams I have worked with, and still do work with, genuinely want to develop the best range of services anywhere in the country.

“This is not just about the survival, but the flourishing of our community hospitals in Devon and we will ensure this is sustained well into the future.”