Devon health services 'face £442m deficit by 2021'

Image caption The Case for Change looks at the problems facing health trusts in northern, eastern and western Devon

Health and social care services in parts of Devon are likely to be £442m in deficit by 2021 if nothing changes, according to a new report.

The Case for Change looks at the problems facing health trusts in northern, eastern and western Devon.

It highlights the county's ageing population and the difficulty in recruiting staff to the region.

Health trusts collectively spend £35m a year on agency and bank staff, the report says.

Read more on this story and others on our Local Live page

The document has been compiled as part of the Success regime, announced last summer, which has been brought in by NHS England to deal with the financial problems facing NEW Devon CCG.

Devon is one of three worst-performing areas in the country.

What is the Success regime?

The programme aims to create the "conditions for success" in challenged areas by looking at health and social care as a whole, according to NHS England.

Three areas have been chosen to be part of the regime.

They are:

  • North, east and west Devon
  • Essex
  • North Cumbria

An estimated £85m is being spent on areas where staff may be able to provide the same quality of service but more efficiently, the report says.

It predicts there will be 37,000 more emergency admissions to local hospitals over the next five years, an increase of 30%, many of which are preventable if patients get more support at home.

The report also states that almost a quarter of GPs in the area are planning to leave the NHS in the next five years, mostly due to retirement.

Ruth Carnall, chair of the Success regime in the NEW Devon area, said: "Financially, the NHS is living well beyond its means. The publication of the Case for Change is the start of our engagement with people about what needs to change and why."

All these issues could lead to health trusts in northern, eastern and western Devon to be £442m in deficit by 2021.

Image caption Ann James, chief Executive of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust said the number of older people across Plymouth and Devon is higher than the national average

Chief executive of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Ann James said: "Clearly we can't carry on. What we need to do is make sure we're able to recruit and retain the right numbers of staff for the services we've got and we're really struggling to do that.

"The older you get and certainly where you've got issues of deprivation, you're much more likely to have more than one thing which needs the care and attention of health and social care, and that of course drives the costs."

Analysis: Jenny Walrond, BBC South West Health Correspondent

This document paves the way for the next phase of the success regime, when we will be presented with some possible solutions. I'm told they are likely to be unpalatable.

Saving so much money is going to require some radical changes. Community hospital campaigners will no doubt be alarmed to read that the cost of beds is highlighted as being more expensive than in an acute hospital and more expensive than other community hospitals elsewhere in the country.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites