The East Devon Care at Home Service otherwise known as ‘rapid response’ is at present, “fully recruited”, Devon County Council senior officers confirmed at the most recent Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting.

Councillors at the meeting, which was held on Thursday 21 March, heard from senior officers that their long-standing efforts to recruit to a team that was around 17 per cent under staffed (sorry I don’t have the numbers) had been successful with the assistance of agency staff.

The service has been under-staffed for a long time, which had resulted in me proposing and chairing a spotlight review into the service last year, after a GP complained.

The review found that some GPs had lost confidence in the service and Hospiscare was also having difficulty in getting carers out to dying patients to carry out basic care such as washing and dressing.

Some GPs said they were simply admitting people to hospital because of the lack of paid carers who could look after people in their own homes.

The rapid response service had received investment before the community hospital beds were closed, but witnesses told the spotlight review that their closure had put considerably more pressure on the system and Hospiscare’s 12 bedded unit was now full much of the time.

Officers told councillors at the 25 March meeting that the service would need to grow so they were not complacent.

There is also a drive to reduce the use of agency staff as they are more expensive.

I have asked for a full report on the situation to be submitted to the June meeting so will update about the latest situation after that.