A Derbyshire Dales health charity has raised concerns about possible changes to a care service supporting people with learning disabilities.
Matlock Hospitals League of Friends has responded to news that North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reviewing the respite break service provided by five local units.
That will include Orchard Cottage, in Darley Dale, which offers four beds and nursing care to relieve regular carers with short residential stays.
League member Pam Wildgoose said: “Patients are to have a re-assessment of their NHS need. People are worried about the future. A couple with a blind, handicapped daughter with a learning disability needing two-to-one care is distraught.
“Are we to lose another valuable service that will adversely affect a highly vulnerable group with a small voice?”
Currently North Derbyshire and Hardwick CCGs commission the service from Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust.
The CCGs have indicated a possible shift to providing respite care in patients’ homes or in adapted community venues such as care homes.
Health leaders say that could allow greater “personalisation” in line with newer care models such as that in Southern Derbyshire, which has no dedicated respite units.
They also claim that occupancy rates for the units are falling, though Pam is concerned that is because fewer people are being referred to specialist disability services.
She said: “Why does reaching equality always result in a reduction in service rather than an improvement?
“The answer could be in the recent CCG Annual Assessment Report where North Derbyshire is again rated Inadequate. It is already £5million overspent this year, which could rise to £22m.”
Derbyshire CCGs medical director Dr Steve Lloyd said: “This is about how, and not whether, these services are provided, and understanding the impact upon current users is important to our plans.
“We understand users and their families place a great deal of value on this service. They and staff are well known to each other and familiarity is an important factor.”
He added: “Part of our duty is to continually review how the Derbyshire NHS pound is spent. Does it reflect patient needs, does it give people sufficient choice, is it fair and equitable and is it sustainable?
“At the moment we are not clear we can adequately answer these questions. We will listen, understand and evaluate what people are telling us before any decision is made.”
For more detail on the review and a feedback questionnaire, visit https://bit.ly/2l1cr0B.