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Families win battle for 33 days of care; RESPITE SERVICES WERE FACING AXE.

Byline: JAMES CAIN Local democracy reporter james.cain@reachplc.com @JimmyMCain

AN assessment of respite care around Teesside has been requested after Teesside families won their battle to keep 33 days care.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock has requested an assessment of the changes to respite services in the Teesside area.

On Friday, Mr Hancock's office confirmed he had referred the case to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) which will now review how the NHS provides respite services before reporting back to the Health Secretary by the end of May.

The decision comes after both Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland councils wrote to the Secretary of State in response to the plight of Teesside families who were facing the possibility of having their respite services cut.

Last year, the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed there were 95 Teesside families looking after vulnerable adults who cannot speak or walk, suffer daily seizures and require regular medication.

For 33 nights a year, the families are given a break from 24-hour care when the vulnerable adults are cared for in the specialist units of Bankfields Court in Middlesbrough and The Aysgarth Unit in Stockton.

However concerns were raised in April last year when bosses at South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (STCCG) admitted they could not guarantee the same guaranteed 33 days respite would continue following proposed changes.

Plans included the introduction of an assessment of parents' respite needs which would see some parents offered caravans and hostels to take their disabled children to instead of the specialist units.

The months that followed saw parents backed by both Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland councils and culminated in both local authorities formally raising the issue with the Health Secretary.

These included mum Judith Brown who has looked after her severely disabled daughter Monica at their home ever since she was born more than 40 years ago.

"This is a vindication the work of and the decision to write to Secretary.

Cllr Eric She previously called for official action by the secretary of state and urged other CCGs to visit Teesside "and see what can be done in supporting families that care for adults who were born 30, 40, 50 years ago so brain damaged that they live as infants".

In January, STCCG finally said the 95 families using respite services would be able to continue with the support as it now stands.'.

But Health Scrutiny Panel chair Cllr Eddie Dryden said he would not be withdrawing the panel's representation to the Health Secretary.

Following Mr Hancock's decision to refer the case to the IRP, Cllr Dryden said: "This is a vindication of the work of the panel and the decision we took to write to the Health Secretary.

"We were very happy to have a good local outcome with the commitment to keep both the specialist units of Bankfields and Aysgarth open.

of the panel we took the Health Dryden "We now hope this referral to the IRP will improve the lives of those caring for vulnerable people throughout the UK.

"We hope the outcome is that respite beds are acknowledged as being separate to normal hospital beds and that, as a result, we can bring an end to the anxiety felt by families who desperately need this service."

referra"This is a vindication of the work of the panel and the decision we took to write to the Health Secretary. Cllr Eric Dryden

CAPTION(S):

Cllr Eric Dryden

Judith Brown and daughter Monica
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 3, 2019
Words:585
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