Significant changes to Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) services at North Devon District Hospital
In January 2016, we announced temporary but significant changes to the provision of Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) services in North Devon. A number of services are temporarily unavailable from North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) and some services are currently being provided at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (RD&E).
There is a shortage of senior doctors in ENT. This has meant that North Devon District Hospital (NDDH), and other hospitals in the region, have been unable to recruit to consultant vacancies. As the unit in North Devon is relatively small, we have been disproportionately affected and the recent departure/retirement of two consultants leaves us with a service that is not viable in its current form. ENT services are currently being addressed as part of the Success Regime, which will develop a system-wide solution.
Examples of the types of conditions/treatments that the department offers are listed below:
Tonsillitis, quinsy, nasal polyps, epistaxis, nasal fracture, nasal deviations, allergic rhinitis, anosmia, snoring, post nasal drip, sinusitis, nasal discharge, head and neck lumps, thyroid lumps, neck pain, globus, hoarse voice, dysphasia, swallowing difficulty, cysts, glands in neck, foreign bodies, otitis externa, perforations, cholesteatoma, eustachian tube dysfunction, pulsatile tinnitus, mastoiditis, exostosis, glue ear (OME), complex balance dizziness .
Please go here for patient information about these conditions/treatments.
Patients who have been seen at NDDH already
If you are on our waiting list for surgery or have follow up appointments planned, we will contact you directly if changes need to be made to your planned treatment or follow up.
New referrals to ENT services
In the short term, we are unable to offer new patient appointments for several ENT conditions. Your GP will refer you to the most appropriate service. This may mean that you will have to travel to the RD&E or to another hospital.
Services provided at the RD&E
Since 1 February 2016, there have been no inpatient ENT facilities at NDDH. The RD&E provide:
- All on-call emergency ENT services (as was previously the case at weekends).
- Detailed plans have been developed to ensure safe transfer of emergency patients to the RD&E.
- Appointments for patients referred with suspected cancer, who need to be seen within two weeks.
- Head and neck surgery.
- Day case surgery – inpatient operations.
The following services are currently being provided at NDDH:
- Emergency department services for patients with urgent acute problems
- Routine follow up appointments for current ENT patients
- Extended audiology services, including:
- Hearing tests & hearing aid support
- Screening services
- Assessment & investigation of some ENT conditions (such as non-pulsatile tinnitus)
- Clinical nurse specialist appointments, including:
- Some head & neck cancer follow up appointments
- Those patients where GP treatment is difficult – narrow canals, children without grommets, dry perforations, patients with learning difficulties but no ear complications, ‘simple’ mastoid cavities, patients with foreign bodies in the ear
- When an ENT surgical clinic is running at the same time, clinical nurse specialists will also see elderly patients with ‘wet’ ears requiring regular cleaning, patients with chronic infections, patients with grommets, ‘unstable’ mastoid cavities, otitis externa
- Radiology for ENT patients, including cancer patients
- Speech & language therapy
- We now provide some limited day case surgery, including operations to insert grommets into the ear.
- As of June 2016, a visiting consultant is providing weekly outpatient clinics at NDDH. This means new ENT patients will now be seen locally, however specialist clinics such as head and neck will continue to be held at the RD&E.
Oro-maxillo-facial surgery provision at NDDH is not affected by these changes and their services will continue as normal.