Trust launches public consultation on proposal to temporarily transfer inpatient services from Axminster to Seaton

THE Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has halted its decision to temporarily move inpatient services at Axminster to Seaton and has today launched a four-week public consultation over whether the transfer should take place.

In October 2014 the Trust announced a plan to temporarily merge the beds at Seaton from the beginning of January 2015 in order to resolve significant patient safety risks at both sites.

The risks centre on having rotas where there is only one registered nurse working on their own as the sole professional looking after up to 10 patients. This was highlighted as a concern by the Care Quality Commission following its inspection of the Trust in July 2014.


The Trust has also identified a further risk that because of the national shortage of registered nurses, it is overly reliant on agency nurses and is often on the cusp of not being able to sustain the nursing rota at Axminster and Seaton.

Dr Alison Diamond, chief executive, said: “We acted in good faith when making our initial decision in October to temporarily merge inpatient services at Seaton in the new year.

“However, since then it has become apparent from the correspondence and conversations at the Monday drop-ins that there is a great deal of confusion about the proposals and that we needed to do more to involve people in the decision we were making.

“On behalf of the Trust I would like to apologise to the community and encourage people to participate in our consultation on whether temporarily merging inpatient services at Seaton is the best course of action.”

The proposal under consultation is that inpatient beds at Axminster are transferred to Seaton to offer 18 beds serving both communities rather than 10 in each hospital.

This proposal is designed to ensure a resilient and consistent inpatient service over the winter, when admissions traditionally increase and staffing can come under greater pressure due to sickness.

The questions being asked through this consultation are:

  1. Do you agree with the proposal to temporarily transfer inpatient beds from Axminster to Seaton? (option 5 of the consultation)
  2. Do you prefer any other option 1-4? If so, please explain the reason for your response
  3. Do you feel we have correctly identified the patient safety concerns and risks?
  4. Do you think there is an alternative option we have not considered?

The consultation is designed to help local people fully understand the patient safety risks and give them a proper opportunity to have their say and make suggestions on how the issues could be addressed.

The Trust is also commissioning an independent review of the safety of staffing in Axminster Community Hospital. The review’s findings will be available in time for the end of the consultation.

The four-week consultation starts on 2 December and runs until 30 December 2014.

The consultation paper is available on the Trust website at while hard copies can be collected from reception at Axminster and Seaton hospitals.

Local people are being encouraged to have their say by:

  • Attending a consultation meeting at Axminster Hospital
  • E-mailing
  • Writing to Dr Alison Diamond, Chief Executive, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, Raleigh Park, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 4JB

A meeting in public will be held in January 2015 to discuss the feedback from the consultation.

Dr Diamond said: “I can assure you we will listen to every single view expressed and these will be used to inform the final decision.

“We are really proud of all our community hospitals and understand the passion with which they are cherished by local residents.

“We look forward to working closely with local people to find a solution that enables us to continue providing safe, consistent, high-quality nursing services to our patients.”

The consultation meetings take place from 2pm to 4pm on the following four Mondays – 8, 15, 22 and 29 December.

We request people book an appointment to ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate. To make an appointment, please call 01271 322460 or e-mail

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Last updated: March 6, 2018