Families celebrate after funding cut postponed for respite centre Nascot Lawn

The entrance to Nascot Lawn respite centre in Watford. Photo: DANNY LOO

The entrance to Nascot Lawn respite centre in Watford. Photo: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

A “vital” disabled children’s respite centre has been temporarily saved from closure and its funding reinstated.

Families using the Nascot Lawn facility in Watford were days away from entering into a High Court battle against Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG), who withdrew £650,000 funding in January.

The centre provided care for children and young adults with severe learning and physical disabilities, and with additional complex medical needs.

After the news of its imminent closure broke to families in June, the Herts Ad supported their fight to keep it open, including publicising a nearly 15,000 signature strong petition and following the campaign group’s progress.

Specialist lawyers at Irwin Mitchell were going to argue the funding cut was unlawful because families had not consulted on the decision.

HVCCG has now agreed to restate backing and consult with affected families.

Partner at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, Alex Rook, said the decision was “very late in the day”: “Our clients have told us first-hand how Nascot Lawn provides excellent care and that the decision to close the centre would have severely affected their lives.

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“We are delighted that the CCG has seen sense and decided to keep Nascot Lawn open. We look forward to the centre continuing to provide excellent care for our clients and their families who use this vital lifeline.”

Some people using Nascot Lawn include Satnam Kaur, whose daughter Gurpreet, 14, has complex medical needs and has used the centre since she was one.

Satnam said: “The staff at Nascot Lawn has been wonderful in the level of care they have provided to Gurpreet.

“When we found out about the decision to close the centre our family was devastated. It would have severely affected Gurpreet’s development and placed a great deal of stress on our family.

“We are just so happy that Gurpreet will be able to continue to attend Nascot Lawn and maintain the bond she has built up with the staff there, meaning our family can remain at our best to help care for her.”

Emma Turner’s daughter Sienna Scott, 10, also uses the centre two nights per month.

She added the funding cut would have been “disastrous”: “Hopefully we will now be able to put all this behind us and Sienna can continue to benefit from the amazing care she receives at Nascot Lawn.”

Chair of the Disabled Children’s Partnership (DCP), Amanda Batten, said: “We are delighted that Herts Valley CCG has seen sense at the 11th hour and reversed its decision to withdraw funding from Nascot Lawn.

“However, the enormous stress that families have faced could have been avoided if they had been properly consulted from the start.”

She said the case highlights the vital role respite services play for families with disabled children: “For many they are nothing less than a lifeline.”

A spokesperson from HVCCG said: “The CCG acknowledges that when it took the decision to cease funding respite services at Nascot Lawn in January 2017 that decision was informed by legal advice that indicated it had no power to fund these services.

“This legal advice was unfortunately inaccurate, and the CCG has been clear throughout its recent discussions with the Nascot Lawn families and carers as well as Hertfordshire county council (HCC) that it does have a discretionary power, but not a legal duty, to fund respite services, but that the CCG has a statutory responsibility to work within its allocated budget and thus needs to prioritise spending on health services that it is under a duty to commission.

“In recognition of the inaccurate legal advice in the original decision-making process, the CCG has decided to set aside its decision from January 2017 and will make a new decision regarding the funding of respite services at Nascot Lawn.

“Prior to making this new decision, the CCG is arranging a further meeting with the families involved in the week of October 2.

“The CCG will also have regard to all of the information that has been generated as a result of the current legal proceedings; the joint assessments that have recently been carried out, confirmation from HCC that funding for respite services needs will be met by the council, and any further matters arising from its engagement with families and other relevant stakeholders.”

A spokesperson from HCC added: “We are pleased that HVCCG have made this decision and hope that it will consult properly about any future decision to cease funding for Nascot Lawn.

“While this is ongoing the county council will continue to work with our health partners to assess the needs of the children and families to ensure the most appropriate support is available in the County.

“We do however, maintain our ambition to deliver an integrated overnight short breaks offer in partnership with the CCG’s ensuring we are in contact with parents and carers.”