A respite care service in Horsham which provides short breaks for youngsters with complex health needs and disabilities could close.
West Sussex NHS is launching a consultation on the future of Holly Lodge in Comptons Lane.
The current arrangements for NHS-funded short break services for children and young people at this unit is unsustainable, the NHS said in a statement.
It has outlined two possible options for the its future: close Holly Lodge and provide continuing care in line with national best practice, through the greater use of specialist nursing support across a wider range of settings including council-run social care units or; identify alternative providers or partners who can offer new and innovative ways of using and staffing Holly Lodge so that services can be maintained.
The consultation is being run by the three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that commission (organise and fund) short break services in West Sussex: NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG; NHS Crawley CCG; NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG.
Whatever decision is reached, overnight short breaks will continue to be available to all children and families who need them, but may be provided at a different unit.
In a statement the NHS said: “The three CCGs, and the current provider of services Sussex Community NHS Trust, have agreed that the way short breaks services are currently provided at Holly Lodge cannot be sustained into the future. Following a review of the evidence, the West Sussex Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASC) also agreed with this view.
“The main reasons why change is needed are to better meet the changing needs of children and their families. Families are more frequently choosing to have short break care in settings other than residential units. As more children with complex health needs live longer, a wider choice of age-appropriate services is needed.
“Changes in national policy and best practice. The services currently provided are not in line with national guidance on how best to care for children with complex health needs. National guidance recommends that more care is available from a wider range of settings near to or at the child’s home.
“Demand for services has reduced. National changes mean that fewer children now qualify for the NHS funded services provided at the units. In addition, as parents are given greater choice about where to receive care, fewer are opting to use the residential services.
“Staff shortages and safety. There are problems in recruiting and retaining appropriately trained staff to work in the residential short break units meaning that essential standards of care and safety cannot be guaranteed into the future.
“Financial challenges. Because fewer families are using residential short break units, there is not enough income to continue to meet the costs of running the Units.”
Speaking about the consultation, Dr Tim Fooks, lead for children’s services for NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG said: “Children with complex health needs and disabilities and their families greatly value the availability of overnight residential breaks and this is an important way of managing their needs. Most of us can only imagine the pressures they face.
“We guarantee that overnight breaks will always be available to all children in West Sussex who qualify for them. However, it has become clear over recent years that we cannot maintain all of our overnight breaks units in their current form.”
Dr Minesh Patel from NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG said: “We are interested in hearing from everyone who has an interest in overnight break services for children with complex health needs and disabilities in West Sussex. We want to hear from families and carers of children who use these services so that we can provide availability of a high quality service for them going forward that will meet their needs and give them the support and care they need.
“We know how important this type of care is to those who use it and we are committed to carefully considering all of the responses we receive during the consultation. We have set up a range of ways people can get in touch with us and have their say, and we will work hard to make sure everyone who wants to contribute can.”
For more information visit http://shortbreaks.westsussex.nhs.uk/