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Secretary of State hears how digital advances are benefiting Devon patients

​​Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, saw first-hand how Devon patients are benefiting from innovative ways of delivering healthcare and investment in digital technology.

Following a night shift at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Mr Hancock was welcomed to the new Budleigh Health Hub in East Devon.

He met project partners and toured the facility with Mary Nisbett, chief executive of Westbank Community Health and Care, based in Exminster, which runs the building, and East Devon MP Hugo Swire.

The hub is an innovative community-led health project led by Westbank in partnership with the League of Friends of Budleigh Salterton Hospital, NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG), Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E) and NHS Property Services.

Mary Nisbett, Westbank chief executive, said: “It was a pleasure to be able to demonstrate to Matt Hancock what can be achieved when a whole community works together.”

Chime Audiology and Budleigh Salterton Medical Practice provides a range of clinical services – including cardiac support, retinal screening, heart failure nurse, podiatry, physio MSK, depression and anxiety service, audiology services, medical practice clinics and memory cafes.

Local organisations also provide services, with Age Concern Budleigh offering: a daycare services for older people; Launchpad, providing work experience for people with learning disabilities in their Café at the Hub; Carousel Nursery providing childcare for 0–3-year-olds; and Ocean Physio.

Mr Hancock then visited Ottery St Mary Hospital, where he viewed the facility and participated in a discussion about health services with local people and members of Devon’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP). The partnership is delivering a comprehensive, five-year plan to transform health and care services for local people so they are fit for the future.

Em Wilkinson-Brice, deputy chief executive and chief nNurse at Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We were very pleased to welcome the Secretary of State to Devon and show him how community conversations are enabling local people be involved in the development of new models of care.  

“​Budleigh and Ottery are great examples of where this is happening in practice – citizens and professionals coming together to understand the needs of the local population and explore how best we can collectively meet those needs. We also explained how the NHS and local councils are working together to develop truly integrated care which supports people and communities to live well.”

Dr John McCormick, a local GP and chief clinical information officer for Devon’s CCGs, added: “We know technology is a priority for the Secretary of State and we were able to explain how a strong focus on digital achievements and innovation is supporting new ways of providing care, particularly the recent introduction of the eConsult service.

“Our priority is to use systems that allow information about patients to flow seamlessly between them. This will support new ways of providing integrated care and allow clinical staff across our whole system to see the same, comprehensive information about a patient and work collaboratively around a health record that feels like a single system.”​