Nascot Lawn: Who’s to blame? Harpenden MP, NHS, and county council squabble over who can save “fantastic” facility

Nascot Lawn. Photo: Danny Loo.

Nascot Lawn. Photo: Danny Loo. - Credit: Archant

A war of words has erupted between Harpenden’s MP, the NHS, and Herts county council over who should save Nascot Lawn.

Harpenden MP Bim Afolami Photo: Danny Loo

Harpenden MP Bim Afolami Photo: Danny Loo - Credit: Archant

Harpenden MP Bim Afolami has called on the NHS to keep the Watford respite centre open while its future is decided.

In response, the NHS said the centre should be the responsibility of Herts county council.

And a Herts county councillor says it is up to Conservative MPs to act.

First, Mr Afolami co-signed a letter calling on Herts Valleys clinical commissioning group (HVCCG) to fully fund the respite centre until January 2018.

He said: “I know how important Nascot Lawn is to several of my constituents.

“A guarantee of a full service until the end of January would at least help to put minds at rest while a solution is being devised.”

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Nascot Lawn respite centre helps children with complex health needs from St Albans and across West Herts.

HVCCG announced it would close earlier this year, creating an outcry from the children’s families.

Eventually HVCCG acquiesced and agreed to temporarily keep Nascot Lawn open, however parents claim staff fearing redundancy have already fled the facility, causing a shortage.

HVCCG issued a statement in response to Mr Afolami which read: “We will continue to fund respite care at Nascot Lawn until January 2018.

“Herts Valleys CCG is in regular contact with Hertfordshire Community Trust to ensure parents will continue to receive respite care until that date.

“In the interests of providing certainty for families and also for Nascot Lawn staff we want to make our new decision as quickly as we can and will aim to do this no later than Thursday, November 2.

“We are also working closely with Herts County Council, which has a statutory duty to provide short breaks and is responsible for making sure that there is a plan to meet families’ future respite needs.”

HVCCG have written to Herts county council, offering to work together on a joint-funding proposal.

However county councillors claim the problem goes beyond them.

Lib Dem spokesperson for children’s services on the county council Mark Watkin said: “There is no white knight able to fill the gap, so the only likely outcome is that HVCCG will cease funding the service from January 31st 2017.

“Parents are still facing a future of uncertainty and distress for their children.

“It is disgraceful the CCG is showing so little compassion for the harm they are causing to these vulnerable children and their families.

“HVCCG is under a financial straight-jacket imposed by NHS England.

“The Conservatives have told us repeatedly the NHS is safe in their hands, well now it’s time to prove it.

“The only people who can change things are the Conservative MPs for Herts.”

David Josephs, representing the Nascot Lawn parent group, said: “Local authority social care and the NHS need to work together far more effectively here in Hertfordshire.

“As parents it has been soul-destroying to hear our public officials blame each other for the destruction of Nascot Lawn.

“If it closes it will not save taxpayers’ money, it will most likely end up costing more: This is the tragedy.

“A fantastic facility revered by families of disabled children looks like it will close because too many of our leaders have lacked the will to work together to find a solution.

“A lot of people need to consider their role in this tragedy very carefully.”