Nascot Lawn families seek legal help over decision to close respite service
PUBLISHED: 09:10 20 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:31 20 July 2017
Danny Loo Photography 2017
NHS bosses have been warned they could have broken the law by not properly informing families that Nascot Lawn would close.
Irwin Mitchell, who are representing families who use the respite service, have demanded the closure be overturned.
Herts Valleys (HVCCG) and East and North Herts clinical commissioning groups were warned they breached the equality act by not telling families the service was closing sooner.
Irwin Mitchell partner Alex Rook said: “The CCGs have failed to undertake a consultation with families before reaching this decision, which they say was taken in order to save over £650,000 per year.
“We believe that the CCGs have not properly considered their legal duties before reaching this decision, and our clients say that had they properly understood the impact it will have on these very vulnerable children and their families, the CCGs would likely not have made this decision.
“We have informed the CCGs involved of our concerns regarding their decision-making process and are determined to ensure that the families affected by this have their voices heard on the matter.”
Families were sent letters only last month telling them the service would be shutting.
This followed a decision by HVCCG to withdraw £600,000 of funding from Nascot Lawn to help save £45 million.
St Albans mother Claire Bryson, whose daughter Evelyn uses the service, said: “We need more time. If it has to be closed, what alternatives are there? The current ones are full, and they are not for children with complex needs.
“So we need more time with Nascot Lawn to work out if there are other funding alternatives, otherwise we’re left with nothing.”
Nicola Lancaster from Stevenage, whose son Lennon Ruffles uses the service, said: “I am shocked that we were not consulted at all, and it really feels like the families of those affected have been completely ignored in the decision-making process. We want to have our voices heard.”
A petition started by the families has been signed by over 14,000 people, and was presented to the county council on Tuesday.
The petition can be found on www.change.org