Nascot Lawn: NHS cease funding for respite centre

Nascot Lawn. Photo: Danny Loo.

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

The NHS has confirmed it will cease funding Nascot Lawn respite centre.

Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) will stop funding the Watford respite centre on Thursday, May 17.

HVCCG’s chair Dr Nicholas Small said: “This decision is one of our most challenging that we have faced and meeting with the Nascot Lawn families has been one of the most humbling engagement processes that we have ever undertaken.

“As individuals we cannot fail to be affected by the difficulties the children and their families face.

“We fully recognise their need for respite care but this must be a matter for the county council.”

“The CCG will remain fully committed to helping the council in the transfer arrangements following the council’s offer to families.”

Nascot Lawn provides short breaks to children with complex health needs and learning difficulties.

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Their parents have been campaigning since June to stop Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group from closing it.

David Josephs, a leading campaigner and parent to Dominic who uses the facility, said: “What I have felt for the last seven months is immense frustration.

“The two biggest powers in the county, the CCG and Herts County Council (HCC), could have averted this from happening.

“And even if Nascot Lawn was to close in the future, more could have been done to, if not eliminate, reduce the unnecessary stress parents are under.

Since the campaign started, two of the children who use Nascot Lawn have died.

Many of the parents have had to balance the campaign with their responsibilities to their children.

Mr Josephs continued: “While our immediate frustration has been with the NHS, I think most of us feel HCC should be joint-funding this service, and I think HCC have hid behind the NHS’ woes, saying ‘we cannot commission a health service’, and we have examples of where it has in the county.

“Whether they have misled us or been misinformed is unclear.

“They have refused to joint-fund the service which would have kept a medically-led respite service available to parents.

“It’s just massively frustrating HCC and the CCG have been unable to work together.

“We made an effort to get all the players around the table but they would not cooperate.

“I do not know if that is down to some political game-playing, or if they could not be bothered.

“I think Cllr Teresa Heritage [portfolio holder for children’s services at HCC] should be held to account for that.”

The CEO of disabled children’s charity Contact and chair of the Disabled Children’s Partnership Amanda Batten said: “We are bitterly disappointed by the CCG’s decision to cease funding for Nascot Lawn.

“Families who have fought so hard to keep the centre open will be left feeling devastated and fearful for their families’ future.

“They have been left hanging by a thread while the CCG and council have squabbled for months over who should fund the vital services Nascot Lawn provides for some of the most sick and disabled children and their families in the area.

“Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case and across the country families are facing similar battles and endless stress and worry.

“It’s vital short breaks services like those offered by Nascot Lawn remain a priority for local authorities and CCGs.

“Their value is clear – as well as being nothing short of a lifeline for many families, they also save the state tens of millions of pounds by supporting parents to look after their disabled children, and they give disabled children opportunities that their peers take for granted.

“That’s why Contact, along with 50 other charities that form the Disabled Children’s Partnership, are calling on the government to take action to stop disputes like this arising in the first place by reviewing how short breaks services are funded.”