Nascot Lawn: Herts county council, Harpenden and St Albans MPs, and NHS providers answer what happens next for families

PUBLISHED: 11:00 23 November 2017

Parents belonging to the Save Nascot Lawn group protesting at Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group offices.

Parents belonging to the Save Nascot Lawn group protesting at Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group offices.

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What now for the Nascot Lawn families? The politicians, the NHS, and the parents have outlined the options after the decision was made to stop funding the respite centre.

Parents belonging to the Save Nascot Lawn group protesting at Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group offices.Parents belonging to the Save Nascot Lawn group protesting at Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group offices.

Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) announced last week it will cease its support on Thursday, May 17 next year.

In a letter to parents whose children use Nascot Lawn, HVCCG said it would have preferred to joint-fund the service with Herts County Council (HCC).

But HCC had apparently said it preferred to keep to its existing three short-break services.

Now parents have accused the two bodies of blaming one another in what they claim is one of the “worst examples of public decision making we as parents have ever seen”.

Parents belonging to the Save Nascot Lawn group protesting at Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group offices.Parents belonging to the Save Nascot Lawn group protesting at Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group offices.

Campaigner Nikki Lancaster said: “Families are deeply disappointed HVCCG will not fulfil its duties to support the health needs of our children during respite. It’s madness they are prepared to throw away Nascot Lawn only for HCC to have to rebuild another centre like it.

“They are not allowing families or the council adequate time to safely transition children.

“The council is now under huge pressure to deliver.

“We look forward to working with them to develop clear proposals to meet the respite needs of all our children and families.

“The clock is ticking.”

A Herts County Council spokesperson said: “We share the families’ disappointment HVCCG made their decision to withdraw funding from May 2018.

“The children having services at Nascot Lawn had been assessed as requiring a health provision. It is now important that HVCCG works with us to plan the most appropriate support for these children with complex health needs going forward.

“We will continue to work with both HVCCG and East and North Herts CCG and Hertfordshire Community Trust to plan an integrated health and social care short breaks service, and our top priority is to work with the families to ensure their children will continue to have access to a suitable and safe provision for their specific circumstances.

“The county council is fully aware of its responsibility for delivering overnight short breaks and has always met these responsibilities.

“The council runs three short breaks centres in Hertfordshire. However, these facilities are not currently adequate for short breaks for some of the children using Nascot Lawn because of their complex medical needs.

“To address this we are investing in making adaptations to the buildings to ensure suitability.

“HVCCG has the responsibility to ensure training and support of staff in these short break units to meet complex health needs.

“We would like to reassure the families that we will do whatever practicable to give their children the respite care they need.”

Marion Dunstone, director of operations for Herts Community Trust, which staffs Nascot Lawn, said: “Our focus remains on maintaining safe staffing levels, and we are continuing to recruit staff.”

Over the weekend, the parents pushed the 11 Conservative MPs in Hertfordshire to lobby NHS England, who instructed HVCCG to make the cuts which doomed Nascot Lawn, and health minister Jeremy Hunt.

St Albans MP Anne Main and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami have confirmed they are organising a meeting with government ministers.

Mrs Main said: “It is disappointing we’ve got to where we’ve got. We can’t take families for granted, and push people to breaking point.

“Families need support and assistance, particularly those in the most difficult circumstances. It’s only right these parents get a break.

“I raised the issue of Nascot Lawn with the health minister last week. In light of the current situation I will be asking questions of government and the NHS.”

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