NHS England has now published the final version of its Sustainability and Transformation Plan for Devon. It’s part of a national review in to the delivery of health services over the coming years.
You may remember that an early draft of the Plan was leaked over the summer. The final version, frankly, says nothing more. It contains absolutely no firm proposals and certainly makes no mention of any planned cuts to services at North Devon District Hospital.
What it does is set out the overall challenges being faced by the NHS in Devon, and the changing circumstances it has to cope with – such as an ageing population and major advances in medical science.
It also sets out a timeline, and makes clear that nothing in the way of specific proposals will come forward before mid-2017.
However I have spotted two small but significant changes in this final document compared with the draft version which I think are worth noting.
Firstly, this document makes clear that geography will be a significant factor in any decision-making process – that’s something we’ve been fighting for in the case of North Devon.
And secondly, there was a reference in the earlier draft to Devon only needing two maternity units, both in the south of the county. That reference has disappeared from the final version of the Plan.
As a community, we must all continue putting forward our argument: any cuts to services at NDDH are unacceptable. I am fighting our case with the decision-makers at every opportunity.