Case for change

Devon’s health and social care system must change to meet the needs of local people

Some services to evolve and develop while others will be radically reshaped

We are always there for you and your family when you need us.

Day in, day out, NHS and social care partners provide a range of treatments and services to the highest standards – from GP services to support for people at home; and from care home services to the latest treatments for stroke, cancer and heart disease.

In an emergency, the NHS comes into its own, with responsive services such as accident and emergency, ambulance and out of hours care. These will continue to be there.

But to protect and improve non-urgent care, we will need to fundamentally change the way we manage these services to make the best use of our limited resources.

Why is this?

There is a shortage of suitably qualified people to work in a number of key areas. This is being tackled on a national level, but is not something that can be solved overnight and so we need to act now.

The funding for health services is increasing nationally, but is not keeping pace with the demand for services. The amount that councils are given for local services has effectively been halved since 2008. For the NHS in Devon to break even by 2023/24, we need annual savings of £99m every year.

On top of this, the challenges we face will intensify in coming years:

  • Eight out of 10 of our hospital beds are used for emergency purposes. If we don’t change the way we use our hospital beds –the number available for planned, low-risk treatment and operations will soon be zero.
  • Devon’s population will grow by 33,000 over the next five years, with a concentration in Plymouth, Exeter and the southern part of the county
  • By 2030 there will be 37% more people aged over 75 compared to today
  • The average annual healthcare cost of someone aged over 85 is £4,500: ten times that of a child under 10 years. On average, a person will consume a third of lifetime healthcare costs in the last two years of life. The number of deaths is rising
  • The amount of time people live in good health has been decreasing since 2012. The major causes of disability locally are musculoskeletal conditions, mental health and neurology
  • 25% children in Devon are overweight or obese. This rises to 33% by the time they leave primary school.

We also know avoidable differences in people’s health across Devon are getting bigger. For example, life expectancy in Ilfracombe is 75 years while in Exmouth it is 90 years. In one area of Plymouth, more than half of children live in poverty compared to less than 1% for the city as a whole.

We need to change the way people in Devon use services and the way we provide them.

We need to work differently, and we need to spend our money differently.