FAQ

Why are NDHT and the RD&E making plans to become a single integrated organisation?

This is the next step in a long-standing partnership between the two organisations and is the logical next step to ensure that services in both trusts can be strengthened and made sustainable. The RD&E has supported the delivery of acute services in Northern Devon for a number of years through clinical networking arrangements to ensure patients in Northern Devon have local access to specialist care. In June 2018, this arrangement was strengthened as part of a Collaborative Agreement which supported NDHT to address some of the challenges faced in providing acute services from the most remote hospital in mainland England.

Our experience shows that the Collaborative Agreement has been of benefit to both Trusts and has showed the potential of what could be achieved through strengthening our partnership.

The RD&E is motivated to support NDHT from a desire to play a full system role in supporting improved experiences of care and performance across the Devon system and proactively preventing provider or service failure which would have a negative impact on the RD&E. In addition, it is clear that NDHT has developed a culture of innovation and agility that would benefit the RD&E.

As one organisation, we will enhance how we collaborate both in our strategic planning and day to day operational delivery. Bringing the organisations together within the SEND (Southern, Eastern and Northern Devon) acute care network presents opportunities to improve resilience and local access across Northern and Eastern Devon.

What happens next?

In December 2021 we submitted our Full Business Case to NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) for merging NDHT and RD&E. This takes us a step further on our path to integrating to become one organisation on 1 April 2022. We expect to hear if we have approval to proceed later in March 2022. If the merger is approved, we will become one organisation on 1 April 2022. Staff and patients will see very little difference the first day. The same services will still be offered from all of our hospitals and teams.

Over the next two-three years teams will be working together to merge their corporate and clinical services to serve our combined population.

Does joining together NDHT and RD&E mean you’re going to close North Devon District Hospital or the A&E?

No. North Devon District Hospital serves a population of 175,000 people in North Devon and Torridge. More than a quarter of its patients are coming from further afield on the Cornish and Somerset borders, or are tourists to the area.

North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) is included within the Government’s New Hospitals Programme, which is an important vote of commitment. It is likely to be the most significant investment in healthcare infrastructure for the population of Northern Devon since NDDH opened in 1979. This comes on the back of the Acute Services Review for Devon which confirmed in 2017 that urgent and emergency care and maternity services should continue to be provided at NDDH.

Both organisations face many of the same challenges, particularly in relation to ensuring we have enough staff. We believe that joining will allow us to be stronger together and will enable us to make the best use of our collective resources to sustain and improve services for our communities.

Will we have to travel to Exeter for treatment in future?

Our aim is to ensure North Devon provides as many local services as it is safe to provide. As the most remote district general hospital in mainland England, there is universal clinical, commissioner and stakeholder agreement that the population of Northern Devon need local access to urgent and emergency care at NDDH. As well as an A&E this also means a local presence of trauma, ICU (in full), acute medicine, acute surgery and maternity services.

Patients have always had to travel to Exeter, Plymouth or Bristol to access certain specialist care, such as complicated heart surgery, and. this will not change as a result of the decision to integrate.

Does this mean RD&E staff will have to travel to NDDH more?

The RD&E has supported the delivery of acute services in Northern Devon for a number of years through clinical networking arrangements to ensure patients in Northern Devon have local access to specialist care.

Since the partnership between the two Trusts was strengthened in 2018 through the Collaborative Agreement, this partnership working has increased and we have been able to offer a number of joint appointments, for example in obstetrics and gynaecology services. Providing opportunities across sites allows us to offer unique, varied careers.

What will the new Trust be called?

In 2021, we engaged with staff and members of the public to understand what is important to our communities in a new name. We heard from more than 500 people, who told us the name should reflect the geographical span, heritage and aspirations of the merged organisation. We have chosen a name as a result of the feedback and will let you know as soon as we are able to following approval of our proposed merger.

Please note that whilst the name of the overall organisation will change, North Devon District Hospital, the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and our community services – including community hospitals – will continue to be known by their existing names.

What is the plan for having governors from Northern Devon?

Working with stakeholders from North and East Devon, we have developed plans to extend the RD&E Council of Governors to ensure we have the right representation from our communities in the integrated organisation.

In order to retain Foundation Trust status, the approach builds on the existing arrangements at RD&E.

The below table shows what our Governor set up will look like.

Governor/constituencyElected or appointed?Number
Public Governors – Northern constituencyElected by public members9 (within this number there are four new posts and one vacancy, so five available posts for North Devon stakeholders who are interested in becoming Governors)
Public Governors – Southern constituencyElected by public members8
Public Governors – Eastern constituencyElected by public members5
Staff GovernorsElected by staff members7
Local Authority GovernorAppointed by Devon County Council1
University GovernorAppointed by University of Exeter Medical School1

We will not be able to make these changes until our proposed merger is approved, but this gives an idea of what to expect. Governor elections for the new organisation will take place later in the year. If you are interested in becoming a Governor, the best thing you can do now is ensure you are a member.

 

What is the plan for membership??

From 1 April, you will be able to become a member of the new organisation.

You can become a member now by filling in the form here: https://www.rdemembers.com/membership/

You can request a paper application form by emailing rde-tr.foundationtrust@nhs.net

Membership of RD&E will automatically transfer across to our newly integrated organisation from 1 April 2022 if our merger goes ahead.

 

How do I get involved?

If you have any further questions or feedback, please let us know at ndht.rde.integrationcomms@nhs.net.

You can become a member now by filling in the form here: https://www.rdemembers.com/membership/

You can request a paper application form by emailing rde-tr.foundationtrust@nhs.net

Last updated: March 18, 2022