NHS England has announced that hospitals and other health services in Devon will be placed into special measures to tackle failing services and missed targets and to address the significant financial strain on resources.
The change will see Derriford and Royal Devon & Exeter Hospitals directed by officials from NHS England, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority, with forced measures being implemented to address the most pressing of failures.
The news comes just over a week after Derriford Hospital announced that it had reported 3 “Never Events” since the start of the year. “Never Events” are mistakes in treatment that are never considered acceptable, such as performing the wrong operation on a patient and leaving medical instruments inside a patient following surgery.
Whilst the move will see external bodies “move into” the Devon Trusts to implement new strategies to turn around the local health services, Simon Stevens, Chief Executive for NHS England, has stressed that these teams will work the local managers who are already in place, as opposed to seizing control completely. Mr Stevens suggests that the previous strategy of removing chief executives and focusing only on failing hospitals was not resolving the NHS crises, and a more holistic approach amongst all of the local NHS services was required. Details have not been released as to exactly what initiatives are going to be implemented at this stage.
It cannot be overlooked that the plan has been introduced in areas where the current NHS provision is thought to be failing patients. The new plan is being rolled out in Essex, North Cumbria and Devon in the first instance, and will presumably be deployed to other failing areas around the country.