Holsworthy inpatient services to close temporarily

Concerns over high agency nurse use, low bed occupancy and staff sickness force decision to temporarily close inpatient services at Holsworthy

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has announced today that inpatient services at Holsworthy Hospital are to close temporarily under urgent measures, due to significant safety concerns. All of the other services at the hospital, including consultant outpatient appointments and day services, will continue as normal.

The Trust has taken the decision in response to a number of significant operational and safety issues which have escalated to reach a position that is no longer sustainable. These are:

  1. Sustained reliance on agency staff to cover staff sickness and keep hospitals open
  2. Recruitment difficulties due to national skills shortages
  3. Decreasing bed occupancy and not all beds being used

The same risk factors are present in both South Molton and Holsworthy, but are currently more pressured in Holsworthy.

NDHT is experiencing significant difficulty in recruiting to the clinical vacancies at both community hospitals which has led to an increasing dependence on agency staff and difficulty in filling some shifts. Having a large proportion of agency staff does not provide the best continuity of care for patients.

There has also been a decline in the numbers of patients being admitted to Holsworthy Hospital and this reduction in bed occupancy leads to the deskilling of clinical staff because they are seeing fewer and fewer patients.

Andy Ibbs, director of operations and strategy for Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said:

“We have a duty to our patients to ensure that there are enough nurses on shift to care for them while in hospital and that those nurses have the necessary skills to deliver high-quality care.

“We have exhausted every possible solution and we are now in a position where we cannot effectively sustain inpatient services at Holsworthy. We have also had to put measures in place to support services at South Molton.

“We know this will be disappointing for the local community and we share their sadness over this temporary closure. We have worked really hard to address these risks and have made every effort to recruit and retain staff as well as develop other options.

“Both community hospitals are supported by staff from NDDH where possible but this is risking our acute inpatient services and we must focus our clinical resource where patients most need it.”

This is a temporary decision taken to resolve an immediate risk of patient safety and quality of care but bearing in mind difficulties we face with staffing, the issue is unlikely to be resolved quickly.

The Trust is working with NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG) to develop a model of care that will enable us continue meeting people’s care needs across North Devon and Torridge within the resources available.

Rob Sainsbury, chief operating officer of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“The CCG supports the Trust’s approach to ensure that patient safety is maintained.”

This decision is separate from the work that is being carried out as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) and will have no impact on the Your Future Care consultation. It is a decision made solely by the Board of Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust. It does, however, have the endorsement of NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group and the management team of the STP who are aware of the challenges we currently face.

Have your say

The Trust is hosting a series of engagement events which will provide the opportunity for people to understand more about the rationale behind our decision and express any concerns or anxieties they might have.

Engagement events

We will be hosting two days of drop-in sessions and two public meetings on the times listed below, and we will also be meeting in public with Holsworthy Town Council.

Drop-in sessions

Monday 20 March 10.30 am to 1pm

Thursday 30 March 9.30am to 12pm

Location: Holsworthy Community Hospital,

Dobles Lane, Holsworthy, Devon EX22 6JQ.

The drop-in sessions will run in 30 minute slots with a limited number of people per session. People who would like to attend a drop in session are asked to contact ndht.Communications@nhs.net, or call 01271 322460, to book a slot.

Public Meetings

Thursday 23 March 3.00pm – 4.30pm

Thursday 23 March 6.00pm – 7.30pm

Location: Holsworthy Memorial Hall

Manor Car Park, North Road, Holsworthy, Devon, EX22 6DJ


There is more information on our website.

Website: www.northdevonhealth.nhs.uk/have-your-say/Holsworthyengagement


Holsworthy Town Council meeting

Wednesday 15 March 7.00pm – 8.30pm

Location: Holsworthy Memorial Hall

Manor Car Park, North Road, Holsworthy, Devon, EX22 6DJ


People can also write to the Trust at:

Holsworthy Engagement

Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust

Raleigh Park


Devon EX31 4JB

Email: ndht.contactus@nhs.net

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Last updated: March 6, 2018