Harpenden father says campaigners are “determined” to keep Nascot Lawn open

PUBLISHED: 14:00 08 August 2017 | UPDATED: 14:53 08 August 2017

David Josephs with his son Dominic in the garden of their home. Picture: Danny Loo

David Josephs with his son Dominic in the garden of their home. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

Families who use crisis-hit Nascot Lawn respite centre are “fighters”, who are determined to keep it open, says a Harpenden dad involved in the campaign.

David Josephs with his son Dominic in the garden of their home. Picture: Danny LooDavid Josephs with his son Dominic in the garden of their home. Picture: Danny Loo

David Josephs, 51, has a son Dominic, 18, who spends 48 nights a year at the facility, which cares for children with complex health needs.

“Nascot Lawn has been the lifeline for our family, helping us to keep strong, and allowing us to spend time with our other son Harry [20].

“Harry has seen an awful lot with some of the emergencies we have had with Dominic.

“So I think that respite time means we are able to relax, knowing Dominic is safe and with people who have known him for a long time.”

Dominic’s primary condition is epilepsy, a common condition and for 70 per cent of epileptics treatable with medication.

David Josephs with his son Dominic in the garden of their home. Picture: Danny LooDavid Josephs with his son Dominic in the garden of their home. Picture: Danny Loo

But for those cases like Dominic, medication does not work.

In a good month, he can have 70 epileptic seizures. But in a bad one, he can have up to 140.

Epileptic seizures are caused by unusual electrical activity in the brain, which in Dominic’s case caused profound learning difficulties.

David said: “We love our disabled kids every bit as much as our able kids.

“But the worry and anxiety is unremitting. You have to be confident in the respite care, and the families who use Nascot Lawn say the team gives them peace of mind.

David Josephs with his son Dominic in the garden of their home. Picture: Danny LooDavid Josephs with his son Dominic in the garden of their home. Picture: Danny Loo

“That is why we are so determined to keep it going.”

Nascot Lawn’s future was endangered after Herts Valleys clinical commissioning group (HVCCG) withdrew £650,000 in funding, a decision made in order to save £45 million this year on the orders of NHS England.

David, who runs his own communications company, said: “I do appreciate HVCCG are operating under challenging financial circumstances, and have to make really difficult decisions.

“I think it should have been working more closely with Herts county council before the decision was announced.

“The way the announcement was made, just sending letters to people with very little idea of what was going to happen, was appalling, and the length of time before the funding was withdrawn was totally unrealistic.”

David Josephs speaks with the Herts Advertiser about the importance of Nascot Lawn's support for his family. Picture: Danny LooDavid Josephs speaks with the Herts Advertiser about the importance of Nascot Lawn's support for his family. Picture: Danny Loo

The closure of Nascot Lawn was announced last month, following which David spoke at a Herts county council (HCC) meeting, where a petition against the closure was presented to the cabinet.

He said to councillors: “We are looking to you to protect these families. Stop this emergency from becoming a tragedy.”

Following David’s speech, social care cabinet member Cllr Teresa Heritage promised HCC would provide short-break care for the children.

Several families are also applying for a judicial review of HVCCG’s decision, and their appeal will be heard in the High Court in the autumn.

David said: “I absolutely support the decision to seek a judicial review.

David Josephs addressing Herts county council in Hertford. Photo: FRASER WHIELDONDavid Josephs addressing Herts county council in Hertford. Photo: FRASER WHIELDON

“It is desperately sad it has come to this, but I think there was no other option. HVCCG has placed them into an impossible decision.

“Parents with these kind of difficulties have had to fight for their kids since they were diagnosed.

“They are fighters, and they will fight as hard as they can.

“I think this really pays tribute to everyone who works at Nascot Lawn, as it shows how hard we are prepared to fight to preserve it.

“I do not think any of the bodies, HCC or HVCCG, want to close Nascot Lawn.

“So what it needs is all the parties to work together, so the service can be saved.”

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