Consultants at a rural acute and community trust have raised fears services will be moved to another provider under a potential shared leadership model.
Northern Devon Healthcare Trust is in talks with Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust and NHS Improvement over “leadership support” to secure the “long term sustainability of services” in the north of the county.
In a joint statement, the trusts said this was a “welcome development”. However, Northern Devon’s medical advisory committee, which consists of consultants and senior clinicians, has written to local MPs asking for “support and contribution towards the current negotiations”.
In the letter, published by Devon Live, the consultants claim the plans would lead to Northern Devon “contracting” with Royal Devon and Exeter.
They say this means sharing a chief executive. Northern Devon’s former chief executive Alison Diamond retired in March and was replaced by chief operating officer Andy Ibbs on an interim basis.
The trust confirmed it has not launched a recruitment process for a new chief executive. The current chief of Royal Devon and Exeter is Suzanne Tracey.
In the letter, the consultants say they are concerned the plans are a “central strategic move which may result in the loss of some services from the area”.
They call for a transparent process with clear objectives that will benefit patients in north Devon.
Northern Devon declined to say if the plans involved contracting with its neighbour trust.
“We will update staff and the community as soon as we reach an agreed position,” a trust spokeswoman said.
The update is expected in May.
The trusts said in a joint statement the discussions build on the close working between organisations in the Devon NHS, such as the establishment of a “mutual aid” agreement, in which clinicians move across trusts where a need arises.
Last year, local officials decided to retain acute services across all four acute trusts in Devon following a review.
Earlier this year, HSJ reported that consultants at Northern Devon moved to block the medical director’s potential bid to become chief executive.
Senior doctors issued a vote of no confidence in George Thomson in January after believing he was planning to apply to be the new chief executive, several sources said.
Devon Live; trust statements; NHS Improvement