New purpose-built GP practice invests in patients’ future

A brand new, purpose-built GP practice opens for the people of Crediton and the surrounding areas this week thanks to collaborative working between local GPs and the wider NHS.

Located on Joseph Locke Way, it enables the clinical teams from Redlands Primary Care to provide patients with the care they need more efficiently and easily from a modern, purpose-built facility.

The new building will future-proof the delivery of healthcare locally for Crediton and the surrounding communities for decades to come.

The new practice will also offer a much wider range of services than they were previously able to from their Newcombes and Chiddenbrook sites in the town.

The two existing practices merged earlier this year to become Redlands Primary Care and the move to the new site brings them into one facility.

The branch surgery at Thorverton remains open.

People registered with the practice will be contacted directly to confirm details about the move and how to get in touch.

The project, costing £8 million, is one of a number of sites across the country to receive major NHS funding to improve facilities.

The project has been spearheaded by Dr Jo Harris and Dr Peter Twomey, GPs at Redland Primary Care, who are investing in their patients’ future with the new building, designed and created to deliver the best and most up to date healthcare for the people of the Crediton area.

Dr Peter Twomey has been part of the team leading the project from the start and he says: “We needed a ‘state of the art’, modern building with the capacity to continue to match demand and provide sustainable general practice into the future. It will give us the setting to further develop the multi-disciplinary team so that the right patient gets to the right professional.”

Dr Jo Harris added “It is really exciting to see our vision take a tangible shape after such a long planning phase. Everyone at both practices is being absolutely incredible – it is a very challenging time for everyone in healthcare at the moment anyway and the upheaval of packing and moving has added an additional strain, so we really are asking a lot of our team. We are very lucky to have such dedicated staff. I think we can all see the opportunities that this will bring for the future of healthcare in Crediton.”

Eighty percent of the funding has come from a long term loan from the NHS England Estates and Technology Transformation Fund (ETTF) – a national funding programme to support GP practices to make improvements to services for local patients including more modern, expanded facilities, use of new technologies. Additional funding has been loaned by Mid-Devon District Council.

Ian Biggs, Head of Primary Care for NHS England and NHS Improvement South West, said: “I am delighted residents from Crediton and the surrounding area can now benefit from this fantastic, state of the art health hub.

“The new building was made possible thanks to the national Estates and Technology Transformation Fund and will ensure general practice in the area is fit for the future.”

The building has been designed around the services that the clinical team want to offer patients. As well as being a spacious and modern building, this new practice will provide a range of flexible facilities and services under one roof.

NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group Chair Dr Paul Johnson said: “Demand for GP appointments is greater than ever.

“This new building will enable the primary care team in Crediton to provide patients with the most appropriate care when and where they need it and offers a wider range of services closer to home.

“The two practices in Crediton have worked tirelessly over the last few years to make their vision a reality for a joined-up modern healthcare facility for the people of the town, and their leadership will have a direct impact on the health and wellbeing of their patients.”

The population of Crediton is expected to rise significantly over the next five years.  The new facility will provide patients with a state-of-the-art health hub that can tackle the current and future challenges for health and care for a much larger population than it currently serves.

Services will be provided from the new GP practice that are much broader than those traditionally offered by GP practices.  There will be a greater focus on prevention and wellbeing services, with more community and specialist clinics located on site, working much more closely with the general practice team.

The new L-shaped building provides better physical access for frail and elderly people, with ample parking, and is accessible through public transport.  It includes 16 multi-purpose clinical rooms across two floors as well as eight telephone/video consultation booths that can be used by different clinicians.

The new site offers expanded general practice teams, including advanced nurse practitioners and paramedics, improving access to clinicians at the practice.

The spacious waiting room contains devices and literature to help patients get to grips with new NHS technology, fill out online consultation forms and learn more about self-care.

There are facilities for training GPs and nurses, rooms for patient groups to meet, and additional office space and IT equipment for staff.

Mayor of Crediton, Councillor Liz Brookes-Hocking, said: “On behalf of the town, I’d like to say how pleased I am at the opening of the new Redlands GP practice.  It seems no time at all since we first heard about the plans for the surgeries to merge and develop better shared services in one building.  In fact, it was back in 2016 and this has been a huge development and an ambitious undertaking.

“As a council, we do what we can to support better care at home for older people and health and well-being for all sections of our community.  The new GP practice will be key to ensuring the delivery of services that we all need in the future and I wish the staff every success going forwards.”

Plans to improve mental health support progressing well

During the summer the NHS and local authorities have been working with the voluntary, community, social enterprise and independent (VCSE/I) sector to develop a new approach to supporting people with severe mental illness in the community.

The work is part of Devon’s Community Mental Health Framework which will see care, support and treatment delivered around the county’s 31 Primary Care Networks (PCNs) – which are local groups of GP surgeries.

Work undertaken during the summer months has begun to explore how groups of VCSE/I organisations can come together, as an alliance, to work across Devon, Torbay and Plymouth. An alliance will help:

  • Increase the available psychological therapies and interventions
  • Support people’s mental health rehabilitation and recovery
  • Reduce loneliness and isolation among older people experiencing mental health problems
  • Reduce digital exclusion
  • Link with local organisations to strengthen community support for people with mental health needs.

VCSE/I sector and statutory agencies will work together in local areas to support people’s mental health. People will be at the heart of decision making about their own care, support and treatment. Those with a severe mental illness will be connected to the right support for them.

Justin Wiggin, Senior Commissioning Manager at NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a really exciting time. We know there is lots of really great work happening within the voluntary sector across the whole of Devon. The interest and response to the engagement events has been amazing. Nearly 150 organisations from Devon, Plymouth and Torbay registered their interest in exploring the opportunity. The VCSE/I sector has so much to offer people to support their mental health recovery. Together we have been discussing what services might look like, listening and learning from each other to shape what an alliance might look like.”

A series of workshops were held to develop service descriptions and meetings with potential alliances have been held to understand the level of interest from the sector. Two potential alliances are now being worked with to commission a single pan-Devon alliance by December 2021.

Find out more about the Community Mental Health Framework in Devon.


New social media campaign encourages young people to get vaccinated

“We are all in this together” – that’s the message from people across Devon in a new poster campaign targeting young people.

Among them is Lara Drake, who’s 25. Lara takes medication for a condition she has, and it can her more vulnerable to Covid-19.

She said: “Having the vaccine can reduce your risk of getting seriously unwell if you were to catch Covid-19, but it can also help to protect your friends.

“There are plenty of young people around with invisible illnesses, and while it’s important to help protect older people, it’s also about young people who you might not know could be more at risk.”

Lara is one of the many NHS staff who we applauded on our doorsteps last year.  She has spent the pandemic working in the Emergency Department at Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, at the Nightingale Hospital in Exeter and now at Exeter’s Covid-19 vaccination centre at Greendale providing operational and administrative support. 

The “Together for Devon” social media campaign launches this week and features people from across Devon giving their reasons for having the vaccine. 

Posters will be distributed to businesses and local authorities throughout Devon to encourage those who haven’t yet taken up the offer to have the Covid-19 vaccine.

NHS Devon’s chief nurse Darryn Allcorn said: “Many of the people in hospital with Covid-19 this summer are younger and unvaccinated.

“It is vital you have both doses of the vaccine to protect yourself from Covid-19 and Long Covid; which affects people of all ages.

“People who are double vaccinated may find it easier to access places such as nightclubs and events, and from this week will no longer have to isolate if they’re in close contact with someone who has Covid-19.”

Why are some young people more hesitant to have the vaccine?

  • They think they won’t be badly impacted by Covid – According to NHS England’s Chief Executive 1/5 people being admitted to hospital in England with Covid is aged between 18-34.
  • They’re worried about blood clots – All first vaccinations in Devon are Pfizer or Moderna as recommended by JCVI and not AZ; which has been associated with a 1/50’000 chance of blood clots in under 40’s.  Under current JCVI guidance eligible 12–39-year-olds will have the Pfizer vaccine.
  • Side Effects – some people do have short term side effects but you may have to have a longer period of time off work or miss important social events if you have to isolate, have Covid or develop Long Covid.
  • They’re concerned about fertility, pregnancy or breastfeeding – The NHS website explains that vaccine is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and for their baby and that there’s no evidence the Covid-19 vaccines have any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant. There Data from the UK Obstetric Surveillance System showed a rise in unvaccinated pregnant women being admitted with Covid-19
  • They worry it will affect periods – According to the MHRA, which regulates medicines in the UK, the number of reports of heavier or later periods is low in comparison to the number of women who have had the Covid vaccine.  Heavier / later periods are very common regardless of vaccinations, they are normally short term and likely to be due to other reasons.  There is some evidence of menstrual disorders linked to having Covid infection or Long Covid.

How can I have the vaccine?

People aged over 17 and 9 months can make an appointment online with the National Booking System or by calling 119, or they can attend one of the many walk in clinics running every day.

People aged 16-17 years and 9 months can either wait to be invited by their GP for an appointment or attend a walk-in session.

Find out where your nearest walk-in vaccination site is or keep up to date on NHS Devon CCG’s social media pages.

Safe bus on standby in Plymouth city centre

Medics have boarded a bright yellow bus in the city centre at the weekend to lend a hand to those injured during a night out or suffering from the effects of too much alcohol.

The Plymouth Safe Bus was at Derry’s Cross on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and has been deployed to make sure people are seen quicker and receive treatment for minor issues there and then rather than being taken to Derriford emergency department. It follows on from an earlier pop up triage tent that was introduced a few weeks ago.

Deputy leader of the Council, Councillor Patrick Nicholson, who is also responsible for health and adult social care said: “Having the safe bus in the city centre is even more important than ever, particularly given the extreme pressures our hospital is currently facing.

“We want people to go out and enjoy themselves safely. We would all rather people did not drink so much, but we are being realistic and planning for it. If it helps take the strain off our NHS colleagues, it has got to be worth doing.”

Dave Moore, the city’s licensing officer said: “Over the first two weekends the team dealt with 45 people coming in suffering anything from too much alcohol to cuts and other injuries. That’s 45 people that did not end up in the emergency department or in ambulances or police cars. It meant our teams could get back on patrol and keeping an eye on what is happening on our streets.

The Plymouth Safe Bus is serviced and maintained free of charge by Plymouth Citybus, who originally re-fitted and painted the bus for free They are also supplying drivers free of charge to get the bus to and from the site.

The bus has been made possible thanks to a partnership between Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Citybus, Devon and Cornwall Police and Devon Clinical Commissioning Group who funded the scheme.

It is staffed by trained paramedics from the Alliance Pioneer Group, meaning no staff from either the hospital or the ambulance service are taken away from their core.

The bus can also be a safe zone for people who may have lost their group of friends while out and about, or who feel a bit unsettled or worried by something.

The aim is to have the bus in the city centre on key nights including Freshers’ Week, Hallowe’en, the run up to Christmas and other key dates.

Devon seeks collaborative leader to chair the Integrated Care System

Devon is seeking a collaborative leader to chair the Integrated Care System (ICSD).

ICSD is a partnership of health and social care organisations working together with local communities across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay to improve people’s health, wellbeing and care.

Through working together, it aims to transform health and care services, so they are clinically, socially and financially sustainable.

This is a significant, high-profile role at the cutting edge of public sector reform. To succeed you will need:

  • Strong strategic leadership skills, with an ability to lead a significant new Board, demonstrated by a career record of achievement at the highest levels, including stewardship of significant funds and resources.
  • You will share our belief that ICSs should reflect all the communities they serve and champion diversity, inclusion, and equality of opportunity for all.
  • You will be politically astute and an excellent communicator. This will be demonstrated though a track record of building strong partnerships across complex boundaries that have driven practical, community-led change.
  • To bring current thinking which will drive improvements in care, long-term, preventative strategies for population health and for tackling health inequality, with a strong focus on integrated approaches.
  • To be able to establish trust quickly, at every level. You will be able to demonstrate how you have built healthy cultures, with high performing boards, and CEOs. You will have great personal integrity and expect this in others. You will operate by the Nolan Principles of Public Life and meet the Fit and Proper Persons requirements.
  • We value and promote diversity and are committed to equality of opportunity for all. We believe that the best boards are those that reflect the communities they serve.

The ICS prioritises equality, diversity and inclusion, team health and wellbeing and the principles of kind leadership in our ‘ways of working’.  The successful candidate will have a key role in nurturing this culture.

Appointments will be made on merit after a fair and open process so that the best people, from the widest possible pool of candidates, are appointed.

For more information and to apply, visit NHS England’s website.

The closing date is 23:59 on Tuesday 17 August 2021.

Exeter’s Nightingale to offer further services from autumn 2021

The NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter will now provide a range of services from autumn 2021 to help tackle waiting lists across Devon and the wider South West region.

After being decommissioned as a COVID-19 hospital earlier this year, the Nightingale was purchased by NHS organisations across the South West. It has since been used to provide diagnostic scans to local people, host a COVID-19 vaccine trial and train overseas nurses.

Local health bosses confirm that plans are well underway to extend these services later in the year, to include planned orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology and rheumatology services, as well as increasing the range of diagnostic services such as MRI scans.

In May 2021, it was announced that Exeter’s Nightingale would receive funding from the National Accelerator Systems Programme, which has been awarded to Devon to increase capacity to further reduce waiting times for certain types of operations. As part of this programme, work is underway to redevelop the former COVID-19 inpatient hospital into:

  • two operating theatres for day case/ short stay elective (planned) orthopaedic procedures
  • high volume cataract and diagnostic hub for glaucoma and medical retina
  • a community diagnostic hub to include CT and MRI
  • an outpatient rheumatology and infusions centre

Dr Elizabeth Wilkinson, Consultant Medical Ophthalmologist at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) and Clinical Lead for Ophthalmology at NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group said: “During the pandemic, many NHS organisations across the country had to postpone planned procedures so that we could care for patients with COVID-19 and continue to treat those with urgent care needs.

“Ophthalmology, orthopaedic, rheumatology and diagnostic testing services have been particularly affected across Devon, and so despite our best efforts, our waiting lists have grown. This means that many of our patients are waiting longer for treatment now than before the pandemic.

“We know how difficult postponing or cancelling surgery can be for our patients and their loved ones, so developing new innovative services in the Nightingale will help us to better prioritise the most urgent patients and those who have been waiting the longest.”

Chris Tidman, Deputy Chief Executive of the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E) and NDHT said: “Over the last year, the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter has been an invaluable resource, supporting care across Devon and wider South West community.

“As well as caring for nearly 250 patients with COVID-19 from across three counties in the height of the pandemic, the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter has also provided over 6,000 important diagnostic scans to local people, supported the delivery of two COVID-19 vaccine studies and hosted overseas nurse training for three local NHS Trusts.

“Our staff and volunteers created an exceptional facility that was much needed to  manage COVID-19 demand, and we are delighted that the Nightingale’s legacy of outstanding care will now continue, helping us to find new ways of working to further reduce waiting times for patients across the South West.

“To support this work, we will be recruiting additional medical, nursing, AHP and support staff over the coming months to work across orthopaedics, ophthalmology and imaging, with opportunities across both the Nightingale and our main hospital sites.”

People in Devon urged to save ED for emergencies – the local NHS is under severe pressure

People in Devon are being urged to only go to their local emergency department in immediately life-threatening cases.

The NHS in Devon is under severe pressure at present due to several factors, meaning GP surgeries, hospitals, community health services, mental health services and social care are all extremely busy.

High numbers of emergency attendances, combined with the need for some health and care staff, or their children, to self-isolate and the impact of Covid-19 admissions are affecting services.

NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s Lead Clinical Representative, Western Locality, Dr Shelagh McCormick said, “The pandemic is not over yet and we need local people to choose the right service for their needs. Where it is not urgent, you can help NHS staff, who are under extreme pressure at the moment, by waiting for the right service.

“You can also continue to support the NHS by continuing to follow the Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air advice.  Maintaining high standards of hygiene and continuing with social distancing also helps combat the spread of other infectious illnesses like noroviruses which are circulating in the community.”

Although the number of people in hospital with Covid is relatively low, hospitals are extremely busy. Reasons for this include:

  • Many staff are having to isolate and not come into work
  • Some staff are having to stay at home to look after children who have been sent home to isolate
  • As care homes are experiencing the same problems affecting their staff, it can make it harder for hospitals to discharge patients into nursing and care homes
  • Measures to keep people safe – infection prevention and control measures – mean we have reduced capacity in many areas. This means we can’t help as many people as we normally can so waits are longer and we can fit fewer people in our buildings
  • Sustained high numbers of emergency attendances – including record attendances and higher than average ambulance arrivals
  • Caring for Covid patients – although numbers are currently small, teams still have to manage with a reduced number of beds due to infection control measures
  • Some people are coming to ED when they shouldn’t be – other services are available to help them.

Here’s what you can do to help – choose the right service for your needs, and if it’s not urgent, please be patient and wait to be seen in the right place.

Before contacting your GP, you can look up your symptoms online using the NHS App, the NHS website or 111 online and there may be steps you can take to help yourself before needing to contact a healthcare professional.  Parents can download the Handiapp for information on childhood illnesses

You can also continue to support the NHS by seeking help when you need it from the most appropriate service. There are a range of options to get help in addition to your GP surgery:

Pharmacy: As lockdown eases, don’t forget your local pharmacist can provide health advice and help with minor illnesses like colds, rashes, sunburn, hay fever and diarrhoea. You don’t need an appointment and they can even provide you with the right medicines at the same time.

Mental Health: If you, or someone you know, is struggling with their mental wellbeing, our 24/7 mental health lines are available:

111 First:
Our NHS 111 service is available 24/7 to provide advice, treatment and care. Just ring 111 or visit and the service will provide advice and refer you to another service if you need it. If you need to be seen in person, they can book you a time slot.

Minor injury units: Emergency Departments are for life-threatening emergencies. There is a network of minor injury units in Devon who can provide the treatment you need – often they’ll see you quicker, and closer to home.

Taking action to improve health and care experiences for people from ethnic minority backgrounds

NHS and care leaders in Devon have backed a series of recommendations to improve the experiences of people from ethnic minority communities in accessing and working in local health and care services.

The move follows the publication of a report commissioned by the Integrated Care System for Devon (ICSD) on the ‘Experiences of health and care in Devon for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and staff’. The report was researched and produced by independent specialists the Nous Group between September 2020 and February 2021.

The ICSD decided to commission the report as an initial step in tackling the issue following local engagement work in summer 2020 on the development of an ethical framework for Devon*, during which negative experiences were shared by people from ethnic minority communities about access to healthcare, while the Covid-19 pandemic placed a spotlight on health inequalities faced by people from ethnic minority communities.

The report includes first-hand feedback from staff and patients, as well as an analysis of NHS data. It demonstrates that change is needed by highlighting negative experiences, describes some of the ways in which this is already happening, and sets out the areas for improvement.

A total of 29 recommendations were made by the Nous Group and all of them have been approved by the ICSD Board and, on 27 May, the Governing Body of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group.

Chair of the Health Inequalities Executive, Dr Lincoln Sargeant, said: “I am pleased that ICSD commissioned this work – it demonstrates a commitment to seek out and tackle these difficult issues.

“The findings will be disappointing but unsurprising for some of our communities, but they are really important for the people of Devon. We need to get things right; not just for our ethnic minority communities but for everyone. If we all take the time to respect and understand all of our colleagues and patients we can get our services right for everyone.”

Jane Milligan Chief Executive of the Integrated Care System for Devon (ICSD) and NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, who joined the organisations in April 2021, said: “Commissioning this report was the right thing to do. We own these issues and we don’t shy away from the report’s findings. We’re pleased people felt able to speak up, and partners across the ICSD have not only accepted all he report’s recommendations, but are already acting on them.

“The vaccination outreach programme is a good example of this, and we have committed to further resources for important initiatives like the BAME staff network.”

The report recommendations focus on key areas including:  

  • Building stronger relationships with ethnic minority communities to make sure health services meet people’s needs
  • Developing Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic reference groups (staff and public), which will provide a platform for feedback to ensure NHS and care partners are listening to the voices of ethnic minority communities (staff and public)
  • Developing cultural awareness training in partnership with ethnic minority communities to support inclusion across the ICSD
  • Developing and improving translation services with communities to ensure everyone is able to access the healthcare they need
  • Building a more diverse workforce that represents local ethnic minority communities across the ICSD and ensuring equal access to progression opportunities.

The report is hard-hitting and provides a detailed insight into the current experiences of patients and staff. Its findings show that too often, people’s experiences are falling short of what is acceptable. Findings include:

  • Devon has a range of processes in place to address BAME inequalities, but their effectiveness is limited
  • There is limited understanding of how BAME communities, patients and service users are faring
  • People from BAME backgrounds perceive barriers to access and appropriate care as a result of their ethnicity
  • BAME staff experience substantial inequalities, with action to address this at an early stage of maturity
  • Devon must seize the twin opportunities of COVID-19 and the transition to ICS to embed accountabilities for BAME inequalities

Chair of the Devon wide BAME staff network, Sanita Simadree, said: “Our members have shared their experiences of working for the NHS in Devon. It is essential that they are listened to and that they are enabled to progress their careers and work in an environment free from harassment and abuse. However, I am absolutely delighted at the recognition of the importance of our staff networks and the valuable part they play in helping organisations and communities shape a better equitable future for all.”

In the executive summary, the report also states: “This project has identified significant appetite for change, and many pockets of good practice and emerging bright spots – including Devon’s roll-out of the vaccination programme, which has incorporated many of the principles of local community engagement and understanding discussed in this report. Devon has an opportunity to build on this momentum.”

As part of the vaccination programme, health and care teams worked with members of faith groups, including Overcomers Christian Fellowship in Plymouth and Exeter Mosque and Cultural Centre to understand concerns or barriers to having the Covid-19 vaccination. This led to a pop-up clinic at Exeter Mosque to support people to have their vaccination in a familiar setting. Some NHS ethnic minority staff have also volunteered to become vaccine ambassadors to support people’s choice to have the vaccine. Engagement work has also taken place with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in Devon.

The report states that “NHS organisations in Devon have a mix of measures in place to support BAME staff and address inequalities, including BAME staff networks, mentoring and reverse mentoring programmes, and tailored support for career development. However these activities are not consistent across the system; and many, particularly staff networks, have only recently been introduced.”

It also highlights substantial variation across partner organisations in reported rates of harassment, bullying and abuse among BAME staff, saying a deterioration in some figures may be explained by increased reporting, “a positive sign”.

A development plan is in place to implement the report recommendations.  These include improving accountability through measuring and reporting on ethnic minority patients and staff experience, outcomes and employment, improving engagement with staff and communities and working with communities to create appropriate support for accessing healthcare.

* The ethical framework provides guidance to doctors making life-and-death decisions in challenging circumstances.

The Nous report was initially published as part of the papers for the 27 May meeting of NHS Devon CCG’s Governing Body.

A note regarding terminology – reproduced from page 6 of the report:

Terminology and the use of “BAME”

The term “Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic” (shortened to “BAME”) is commonly used within health and care to refer to people of non-White ethnicities, especially when making comparisons to the White population. The term is imperfect, and often inappropriately used. There are concerns that it groups together diverse ethnicities: potentially masking instances of inequality and/or racism; or homogenising the experience of individuals and communities who experience racism in different ways. People are more likely to identify as a particular ethnic group or race, than as “BAME”. An alternative consensus on the terminology is yet to form and for the purposes of this report the term provides a useful analytical framework to understand racial and ethnicity-based inequalities. This report should be read fully cognisant of the limitations highlighted above, and experiences of racism set out in the report should not be assumed as applicable to all non-White individuals.

For more information, call 01392 674801 or email