Health group defends decision to cut £600,000 funding for Nascot Lawn respite centre

Herts Valleys CCG CEO Kathryn Magson. Photo: HVCCG.

Herts Valleys CCG CEO Kathryn Magson. Photo: HVCCG. - Credit: Archant

A health group has defended its controversial decision to cut funding for a centre which provides valuable respite care for disabled children after more than 13,000 people signed a petition against it.

Families have spoken out against the cut to the Nascot Lawn facility, which will be forced to close as a result of the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG) decision to stop its £600,000 funding.

Speaking at St Albans District Council’s health and wellbeing panel on Wednesday, July 5, HVCCG boss Kathryn Magson said the partnership between the group and county council: “Does not mean one organisation pays for things the other should. We should not have been funding respite services.

“We are doing our utmost to ensure families are transitioned to services jointly with the county council, but I must make it absolutely clear the NHS is under extreme financial pressure.

“We cannot be making discretionary payments that are statutory responsibilities of other authorities. People would not expect that when there is demand in the health care system.”

Ms Magson explained that HVCCG has to make savings of £45million after it narrowly avoided making a loss in the 2015-16 financial year.

Even when it has saved £45million, she added, cuts will have to continue in order to balance the books.

Most Read

However the chairman of the panel, Cllr Robert Donald, said: “How they came to £45 million for savings really undermines the core principles of the NHS.

“I think it’s a major oversight.

“It is really about working with partners to make sure it’s the best service for patients locally.

“They have not worked out a strategy with Herts county council or Herts community trust for making sure Nascot Lawn remains open. And it is a service that should be provided.”

St Albans patient group chair, John Wigley, who was also at the meeting, asked: “Why hasn’t the county council stepped up to the table and put up the dosh?

“The county council has not come in for much flack, but it’s them who have a legal duty to provide this service.”

A petition against Nascot Lawn’s closure currently has more than 13,000 signatures.

During the meeting, there was also discussion surrounding the future of St Albans City Hospital and Harpenden Memorial Hospital.

HVCCG representative David Evans said St Albans would remain open and there was an opportunity for it to be developed further.