Parent power forces concession on plans to move respite care
PARENTS will be given more time to be consulted on plans to move respite care for disabled children out of the city.
Health bosses have stressed they are listening to worried city parents over the proposals for youngsters with autism and learning difficulties who receive care at Meadowpark Centre in Shillingford Abbot, near Alphington, being transferred to units more than 20 miles away.
The move is to make room for children with physical disabilities who currently receive respite at Exeter's Honeylands Centre, Pinhoe, to continue to receive care in the city when Honeylands closes next year.
The plans are part of a multi-million-pound project to provide a new centre for disabled children in the city.
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A protest meeting for parents was held at King George V Playing Fields earlier this week and, as a direct result, NHS Devon and Devon County Council issued a new joint statement.
It said: "Contrary to some of the comments received, these proposals are not cutbacks. They are the result of a significant investment from a variety of sources, including an increase in the short breaks service, to improve services for families across the whole of Devon.
"We have listened to a wide range of concerns from parents and carers and have agreed to establish a longer timescale to enable us to work with every family involved on an individual basis.
"This will ensure every child's needs are individually considered with their parents and carers to agree a plan for the best way forward for their child.
"The timescale agreed will now see Meadowpark being refurbished in September to allow more time for these plans to be put together, and all the proposed improvements completed by January 2011."
Under the proposals, the Honeylands Centre will cease to provide respite services and become an assessment centre.
But parents of children attending the two units say they were not consulted about the reorganisation, describing it as a 'sham', and set up a Facebook campaign site to save Honeylands which has almost 4,000 members.
Devon Primary Care Trust, which commissions respite care in Exeter, says the changes will increase opportunities for children attending the centres. A spokesman said each of the children would be assessed on their care needs.