Nascot Lawn families receive a glimmer of hope after Herts county council promise to provide care

The families of Nascot Lawn presenting their petition to Herts county council in Hertford. Photo: FR

The families of Nascot Lawn presenting their petition to Herts county council in Hertford. Photo: FRASER WHIELDON - Credit: Archant

Nascot Lawn families have received a glimmer of hope for the future.

Around 20 parents, holding placards and photos, heard Herts county council promise to pull out all the stops to help them.

The pledge followed an emotional plea to the full council meeting by two parents: David Josephs and Nicci Lawrence.

David, from Harpenden, said: “We are looking to you to protect these families.

“Nascot Lawn helped us preserve our mental health, and has been a lifeline for us.”

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

David Josephs addressing Herts county council in Hertford. Photo: FRASER WHIELDON - Credit: Archant

Some councillors were brought close to tears when David spoke of his son Dominic.

“He started having seizures when he was two, and now has 130 seizures a month.

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“He is 18 now: cannot talk, is incontinent, and requires care because a seizure can strike at any moment.”

He finished his speech to great applause by asking the council to help “stop this emergency from becoming a tragedy”.

Nicci, from Stevenage, said her son Lennon was deaf, blind, and severely autistic, so his family were his “eyes and ears”.

“Our life revolves around all of his medical needs. It’s unbearable at times.

“Nascot Lawn gives us a weekend of being normal, once our most prized possession is in safe hands.”

She presented the petition, all 14,000 signatures, to the council’s children’s services portfolio holder Teresa Heritage.

The petition began after Herts Valleys clinical commissioning group (HVCCG) pulled £600,000 from Nascot Lawn, which provides respite care for disabled children.

Without the funding, Nascot Lawn will close on October 31.

Harpenden’s Cllr Heritage said: “The county council will provide short-break services to ensure the social care needs of children are met.

“Even if this leads to a budgetary overspend.

“Nascot Lawn is an oasis of hope for 62 families in Hertfordshire for children with complex and life-limiting health needs.

“I appreciate how upset families felt when HVCCG announced they were withdrawing funding.

“The families and the county council are having to pick up the pieces. We will not aggregate the responsibilities, but this should be shared with the CCGs by providing care and sharing funding.”

Cllr Heritage said in a statement afterwards: “We are in contact with all families to undertake joint assessments with Herts Valleys and East & North Herts CCGs to ensure a full understanding of children’s health and social care needs.

“The county will extend the commissioning of Nascot Lawn services, hopefully in partnership with HVCCG, past October 31 and with funds taken from contingencies, until such time as suitable alternative provision is secured for these families and their children.”

St Albans mum Claire Bryson, whose daughter Evelyn uses Nascot Lawn, said: “We need an actual date. Without a date the staff will continue to leave. But it’s a move in the right direction.”

A HVCCG spokesperson said: “We are committed to working closely with our colleagues in the county council so that we continue to move forward together in a way that minimises the impact on families whose children go to Nascot Lawn.

“Although the CCG’s financial situation has made it impossible to continue to fund short breaks services at Nascot Lawn, we welcome the county council’s decision to extend the funding as something that will support the transition to a county council service.

“Parents and carers will now have an opportunity to feed back about the needs of their child and their family through the joint health and social care assessments we are looking to complete over the summer.”

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