IMPROVEMENT is needed in some services run by the Royal Devon and Exeter Healthcare Trust, a report has concluded.

The Care Quality Commission carried out inspections in November and December last year at North Devon District Hospital and the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

This was in response to the trust reporting 16 ‘never events’ between March 2021 and November 2022.

NHS England defines never events as ‘serious incidents that are entirely preventable because guidance or safety’.

Also, the CQC received what it described as ‘information of concern’ regarding medical care at the trust.

The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital moved from good to ‘requires improvement’ overall for medical care. 

It was rated as requires improvement for being safe and well led.

Surgery at both locations dropped from good to requires improvement overall, as did the ratings for safe and well led.

This is the first inspection of the trust since the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust merged to form the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, in April 2022.

Cath Campbell, CQC deputy director of operations in the south, said: ‘Although we understand the pressures that healthcare providers have faced, and continue to face, never events are precisely that - they should never occur. 

‘If they do, it’s important they are thoroughly investigated to ensure they don't happen again. 

‘Once an investigation has taken place learning should be shared with all staff and that wasn't always happening.

‘Inspectors found staff knew how to safeguard people. 

‘They also treated people with kindness and compassion, considering their individual needs and preferences.’

The CQC said the trust’s leaders knew what they needed to do to improve services, and where there was good practice to build on.

Chris Tidman, deputy chief executive officer of the trust, said: ‘We are of course disappointed by the results in our medical and surgical services, however we feel it is a fair reflection of the challenges the trust and our teams were under at the time of the inspection.

‘We are a learning organisation and we welcome feedback from the CQC and their response to our never events, which will help us to continuously improve our services for our patients and communities. 

‘We are reassured that the majority of the areas for improvement were already known to us, and work is underway to raise standards and performance.’

Mr Tidman said there were some ‘really positive reflections’ in the report including ‘patients being treated with compassion and kindness, examples of positive-team working, staff feeling empowered to raise concerns and treating patients according to their individual needs’.