Care chief defends closure of Horsham respite centre

JPCT 250913 S13390074x QE II school, Horsham -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 250913 S13390074x QE II school, Horsham -photo by Steve Cobb

A closed Horsham respite centre for the disabled was not financially sustainable and money used to run it will be better spent elsewhere, says a health expert.

Holly Lodge, a short break service for children with complex health needs and disabilities, was temporarily closed earlier this year but NHS doctors made a decision in November not to re-open it.

The consultation included the closure of The Cherries respite centre in Chichester.

New overnight short breaks services will be commissioned from Cissbury Lodge and Chestnut Tree House.

A similar service is still available at Finches in Burgess Hill.

During a governing body meeting for Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Horsham local Lilian Bold, 64, told GPs: “It’s disturbing to hear with the closure of Holly Lodge and The Cherries that severely disabled children are needing to travel a 30 to 40 mile round trip to receive an overnight respite service so that their parents can get a well deserved uninterrupted good night’s sleep. Please could I ask that an action plan be devised to help improve the rights of disabled people, especially disabled children living in West Sussex.”

David King, head of performance for the CCG, explained a total of 21 children and young people used both centres and that was not financially sustainable. He said: “We have been dealing for some time with the changing demand in patient use. There is reducing demand for both units. Many children moved to Finches in Burgess Hill and my understanding is parents are happy with that arrangement.”

Speaking of the number of people using the facilities, he continued: “That level of usage doesn’t make it financially sustainable.”

He said some £300,000 was spent propping up these units and the money could be better spent on packages of care for patients rather than supporting bricks and mortar.

Mr King explained discussions over the future of both respite centres had been going on for some time, adding: “We have done the right thing although it is obviously regrettable for the families.”

In a letter to parents, CCG doctors wrote: “We believe the commissioning of new services and the introduction of the Community Children’s Nursing Service will enable provision of better, more flexible and tailored care for all children across West Sussex, while still retaining the option for families who want overnight residential care.”