Council hopes to save Horsham children’s respite centre

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The West Sussex Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee has said it hopes that Holly Lodge in Horsham which provides short breaks services to help support the families and carers of children with complex health needs and disabilities can remain open.

At a meeting on March 14, the committee endorsed all the recommendations of a task force it set up to scrutinise NHS plans for the future of these services across West Sussex.

The Committee heard that changes to the eligibility criteria for NHS funded short breaks services mean that fewer children are now eligible for short breaks (which used to be known as “respite care”), and the future of services, including the Cherries in Chichester and Holly Lodge in Horsham, is under review.

Holly Lodge closed temporarily in September while the council considered its future.

Calling on the NHS to take the needs of all children with complex health needs and disabilities and their families into account in developing plans for the future of short breaks services, the Committee said it accepted changes were required, but hoped that both units could survive.

It was particularly concerned at the lack of alternative services in the western part of the county if the Cherries was to close and the impact on children and their families if they have to travel long distances to access these much-needed short breaks.

Committee chairman Margaret Whitehead thanked the Task Force for its work and added: “The committee understands that no change isn’t an option, and that the NHS needs to find new ways of delivering short breaks services, but we do hope it will take our findings into account and ensure that the children who use these services, and their families and carers, are at the heart of any decisions about their future.

“The committee is very grateful to the time taken by families and carers in providing evidence to the Task Force. We know how difficult it is for them to find the time to come along to meetings and how concerned they are about the future of short breaks services for their children. We hope a way can be found to ensure these two units can remain open.”

The committee also heard from the Director of Public Health about how challenges for the whole community in terms of improving health and wellbeing are being met.

Committee members highlighted the importance of addressing obesity, which they felt needed to be pushed up the agenda.

The committee also endorsed the plans for reshaping Adults’ Services, which will be put into place over the next two years.

It also pledged to monitor performance of the out of hours GP service following concerns regarding poor performance against national targets.