Carers and families of children with complex medical needs are fighting to save Nascot Lawn Respite Centre in Watford, from closure following funding cuts.
The centre, which is operated by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT), provides overnight respite and care to give their families a much needed break. It also has a day care service for children up to five that have severe physical and learning disabilities.
On Friday 16th June, Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), a main funder of the facility, informed parents that the centre would close at the end of October because of funding cuts.
The CCG has been placed in financial turnaround by NHS England and must find £45 million of savings and as part of this has decided to withdraw it support of £600,000 a year for the respite centre.
The centre has 8 beds and is staffed by nurses and healthcare assistants. Around 50 families currently use the facility.
A petition to save the centre has been launched and signed by over 12,000 people – it should be presented at a Hertfordshire County Council meeting on July 18th. Some councillors have also tabled a motion requesting the Council to write to Herts Valleys CCG to reconsider or at least delay cuts until April 2018 to enable them to find alternative provision.
Carer Nikki relies on the service to provide additional care for her 10-year-old son, who has severe autism, seizures and other medical needs that require him to require round the clock supervision. She said: “It is our haven and means we can spend quality time with our other children or a chance to catch up on sleep and other activities we find difficult to do whilst caring 24/7. There’s no other respite like it in Hertfordshire and it will devastating if it closed.”
Another carer who explained that her 11-year-old son has a range of conditions including cerebral palsy and sight impairments and caring for him is a 24 hour job. She said: “I was so shocked at the news that we are losing this amazing service and want everyone’s help to make sure people hear what we all have to say. I have an older son and daughter who go without so much. Nascot Lawn gives us the time to dedicate to them and gives us the precious sleep we all need, all in the knowledge that our son is being well looked after.”
Michèle Stokes, our Chief Executive, said: “We were disappointed to learn of this decision as there was no consultation prior to the announcement with those directly affected or voluntary sector partners like ourselves. The loss of the respite service will put extra strain on families and cause anxiety as they do not know what support they will have in the future. Whilst we recognise the difficult financial situation that Herts Valleys CCG is in, this decision does not seem to have taken account of the impact of closure on the wider health and social care economy.”
Michèle continued: “We have met with parent carers affected by the decision and we have offered one to one advice and emotional support to them. We have also raised awareness about the petition set up to try and save the centre and we have written to all Hertfordshire’s MPs asking them to support the parents of children and young people with complex health needs and learning disabilities who are campaigning to keep Nascot Lawn open.”
Teresa Heritage, Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We have been working with providers across the county to ensure the best provision of short breaks services for children across Hertfordshire. We are disappointed that Herts Valleys CCG has since decided to cease their funding contribution to short breaks services which means we will unable to move forward with integrated health and social care provision. The Council fully appreciates this is an extremely anxious time for families and we will be working closely with partners, staff and parents to minimise the impact of this decision.
“We are in contact with all families to undertake joint assessments with Herts Valley and East & North Herts CCGs to ensure a full understanding of children’s health and social care needs. We are also hoping to work with representatives of the families affected to consider a range of options for support.”
You can sign the petition at www.change.org/p/save-nhs-nascot-lawn-children-s-respite-services
If you want to speak to someone at Carers in Hertfordshire about this or get advice about your caring role or how the charity can support you can call us on 01992 58 69 69.