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Battle To Save Respite Centre For Disabled Children Intensifies As High Court Grants Permission to Challenge Closure

Final Hearing Set To Be Held To Decide If Planned Closure Of Nascot Lawn Is Lawful

15.01.2018

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Families are to step up their fight against the closure of a respite centre for disabled children after the High Court granted them permission to challenge the lawfulness of that decision.

Lawyers acting on behalf of parents will now have their case against Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group’s (HVCCG) plans to withdraw funding for Nascot Lawn heard in full.

The future of the centre in Watford is under threat after health bosses announced it intended to axe the £650,000 funding it provides for respite services. 

Specialist public law lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who are representing the families, lodged proceedings with the court and it was ordered by Mr Justice Dove late on Friday, 12 January, that the ‘claim is properly arguable on all grounds’.  

It is now hoped that a final hearing, to determine the lawfulness of withdrawing funding for Nascot Lawn, will be held on 6 and 7 February 2018.

Expert Opinion
“We have said all along that HVCCG have misunderstood their legal obligations and failed to lawfully consult with those who will be severely impacted by the closure of Nascot Lawn. Families have been left with no alternative but to issue court proceedings once again.”

“We would again urge HVCCG to reconsider its decision and enter into constructive dialogue, bringing to an end the anger, frustration and uncertainty that families feel. The closure of Nascot Lawn would have a devastating effect on the community.”
Alex Rook, Partner

HVCCG originally announced plans to withdraw funding for the centre in spring 2017. A legal challenge against that decision was launched.

However, days before a judicial review was due to be heard in the High Court over the legality of proposal, the CCG agreed to set aside its decision to stop funding.  The High Court quashed its decision and ordered the CCG to pay the legal costs.

Now health bosses have once again decided to withdraw the funding, putting the centre back at risk of closure.

Irwin Mitchell wrote to the CCG stating that the new decision was also unlawful on the basis that it breached its duty under the National Health Services Act and the Equality Act, and that it had failed to lawfully consult with families.

Health bosses have so far refused to back down.

A petition to keep the centre open has gained over 15,000 signatures and the issue was discussed in the House of Lords. Six local MPs have also written to the Department of Health inviting NHS England to hold HVCCG to account. 

Among the families that Irwin Mitchell represents is Satnam Kaur, from Bushey, whose 14-year-old daughter Gurpreet has a range of complex needs and has used Nascot Lawn since she was one.

Satnam said: “Issuing the High Court proceedings is a last resort but one the families feel they have no choice but to bring because of the CCG’s continued refusal to take our concerns seriously.

“At present there remain no viable alternatives as to how vulnerable children and their families who rely on Nascot Lawn will receive essential respite care if the centre closed.

“Nascot Lawn and the staff provide excellent care in looking after Gurpreet and all the other children and their families who need its help.  It is vital that it remains open.”