• Lack of suitable candidates to lead both Devon CCGs and STP
  • Recruitment process pushed back until new STP chair is appointed
  • Health economy reviewing acute services for reconfiguration opportunities

Healthcare leaders in the South West have postponed the recruitment for a new accountable officer after failing to attract enough suitable candidates for the role covering two clinical commissioning groups and an STP.

Officials in Devon chose not to proceed with the search for a new leader of Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG and South Devon and Torbay CCG. The successful candidate would also lead the Devon sustainability and transformation partnership.

Torbay Babbacombe beach

The role would cover Devon STP and both the county’s CCGs

The decision comes after the launch of a second wave of reviews into hospital specialties in the county, with pathology, cardiology and radiology services set to be scrutinised for efficiency savings and reconfiguration opportunities.

Local leaders have been working closer together since the health economy covered by NEW Devon CCG was placed in a success regime in 2015.

The STP, which also includes the South Devon and Torbay footprint, was led by Dame Angela Pedder until she retired at the end of August.

Two trust chief executives, Suzanne Tracey and Maired McAlinden, are currently sharing leadership of the STP on an interim basis.

Nick Roberts is interim accountable officer of both CCGs.

Shortlisting for a permanent accountable officer with responsibility for both CCGs and the STP took place in November but on 4 December the process was postponed.

A spokeswoman for NEW Devon CCG said the pool of potential candidates was “too limited for a truly competitive and robust interview and assessment process”.

The decision to pause the recruitment was agreed with NHS England. Governing body papers from both CCGs described the decision as a “disappointing outcome”.

A new interim is being sought and the CCGs are also recruiting a new chair for the STP. Once the chair is in post, the recruitment proccess for a permanent accountable officer will start again, the papers said.

Meanwhile, a review into Devon’s pathology, cardiology and radiology services will be carried out to assess opportunities to reduce variation and make savings through potential reconfiguration.

This is likely to be followed by reviews of orthopaedics, ophthalmology, gastroenterology and urology, the papers said.

Devon has been a financially challenged health economy for several years and in 2017-18 the STP is planning for a deficit of £61.5m, even with a savings plan of £168.2m.

Last year, the county’s four acute hospital trusts agreed a system to ensure staff can work across organisations if a need arises.