I have met with senior officers from the South Tees Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) over their public consultation on proposed changes to respite opportunities for people with complex needs, learning disabilities and/or autism.
The consultation includes 2 Bankfields Court in Middlesbrough and Aysgarth in Stockton.
Concerned constitutions who currently use 2 Bankfields Court had contacted me who are extremely worried about the proposed changes.
Currently, up to 51 people with different, complex needs, use 2 Bankfields Court in Normanby and almost half of those who use bed based respite also use day services each week day.
The consultation is underway as part of the national and regional ‘Transforming Care’ agenda looking at how people with learning disabilities and their families and carers access different services.
Here in Middlesbrough, the consultation is proposing two options. The first would mean people would not get bed based respite from 2 Bankfields Court, but could get alternative bed based respite elsewhere. Option two would see some people still use 2 Bankfields Court for bed based respite but depending on their assessed need and resource allocation, they may have the opportunity to access alternative community based services.
This has led to great concern from families who currently use 2 Bankfields Court.
Constituents who have come to me have very real concerns and worries about the proposed changes and I have shared these concerns with the CCG.
As a family we have our own personal experience to draw on and my wife and I know only too well what a lifeline high quality services can be and the service is critical to many families as it stands and any diminution will be disastrous for them.
Sadly, the consultation appears to have been poorly expressed and communicated. It has caused real anxieties for families when they see, for instance, the document saying that alternative respite services could include a hotel or B&B or an adapted caravan or chalet. Whilst this may be part of a package that may be appropriate in some suitable instances, such notions are wholly inappropriate for adults with severe learning disabilities and complex medical needs and those families are understandably horrified at the prospect.
I met with the dedicated officers from the CCG involved in this consultation and they are fully committed and passionate about providing services for all – they are however constrained by relentless pressures and budget cuts. What we need is a properly funded NHS and Social Care system that properly meets the needs of those individuals and the needs of their carers’ and not a fragmented and complex service starved of the resources it truly needs. This Government’s priorities of tax breaks for the super-rich, corporations and banks are completely upside down and they need to fundamentally change their approach if a complete and catastrophic breakdown on people’s everyday lives is to be averted.
I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with these families to ensure that the lifeline that the Bankfields service provides is not taken away from them.