HEALTH leaders in Devon aren’t confident they can get out of special measures by the target date.

The county’s leading health professionals told the Devon Integrated Care Board (ICB) that it could ‘not provide assurance of meeting the target exit date by Q1 2024/25’. 

At its December meeting, the ICB, chaired by doctor and former Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston, heard that Devon’s health and care sector is on target to meet just two of nine criteria it has to hit to exit the NHS Oversight Framework, or NOF.

Devon is under NOF4, the most serious level, also referred to as being in special measures.

Bill Shields, interim chief executive and chief financial officer of NHS Devon, told the meeting at County Hall in Exeter that the health system had a ‘significant amount of work that needs to be done’.

‘If you look at the current financial performance, we are not where we need to be,’ he said.

He noted that this year had been challenging for a variety of reasons, including industrial action by junior doctors, and that next year will be similarly challenging for the whole NHS.

A report by Mr Shields showed Devon’s health service reporting a year-to-date deficit of £75 million against a planned deficit of £39 million, up nearly three-quarters compared to the previous month.

Stubborn costs, industrial action, a shortfall in pay award funding, and a year-to-date overspend on drugs at some hospitals were listed as some of the reasons.

Devon NHS has made nearly £90 million in efficiency savings in the current financial year, but it is targeting a total of £212 million.

Mr Sheilds said NHS Devon is moving to a single central office at Exeter’s Pynes Hill this month, which will help reduce annual running costs by approximately £500,000.

He added that all non-clinical posts would ‘not be filled by default’ but that a detailed process could be conducted if a case is made for a post to be filled.

Allison Williams, system improvement director for NHS Devon, welcomed the ICB’s commitment to helping improve the situation.

She said: ‘The seriousness with which the board needs to take this is well understood.

‘As part of the reset, it is timely to remind ourselves of the reason why I’m here as part of mandated support.’

The ICB is made up of members from the NHS Devon executive as well as non-executive members, and members from other organisations, such as Devon County Council’s leader Donna Manson. 

Its purpose is to ensure high quality heath services and robust financial management.