PARENTS have vowed to continue the fight to keep Salisbury’s only respite home for severely disabled children open, as health bosses recommend it be closed.
Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (WCCG) is set to meet on January 28, and a paper will be put to the board recommending Hillcote, in Manor Road, is shut, despite a 6,000- signature petition calling for it to remain open and the backing of Mencap, local councillors and the city’s MP, John Glen.
Angela Scott, chairman of the Save Hillcote group, said: “We are very disappointed that they haven’t listened or taken account of the fact that people don’t want their children going 25 miles away to Devizes or to foster carers.”
The WCCG says the facility is underused and that there will be no funding cuts, with respite care being provided through Canon’s House in Devizes or trained foster carers.
But campaigners say the reason Hillcote is underused is that parents in recent years have not been made aware it is there.
They are concerned that moving will be a major disruption to their children, that the travel will adversely affect their health and that they won’t be able to get to them quickly in an emergency.
Pam Chapman, from Salisbury, has a 17-year-old son Dylan, who has been going to Hillcote for respite care for the past seven years. He has a severe form of epilepsy, learning difficulties and behavioural problems that mean when he is in an educational setting he has to be in a staff ratio of 2:1 at all times.
Mrs Chapman said: “If I hadn’t had support from Hillcote I don’t think I could have him at home because I just couldn’t cope. I’m not just fighting for Dylan, but for all the children who come after him.”
The campaigners are calling on the WCCG to consider alternative, less costly, locations rather than leaving the south of the county with no facilities of this type.
Mr Glen said: “This is a very vulnerable group of people, and I will be writing the WCCG to say I disagree with the closure and to ask them to consider alternatives.”
A spokesman for the WCCG said: “If the joint recommendation for closure is supported by the Clinical Commissioning Group, a programme for closure would take account of the time needed to put into place alternative support for children and young people who currently use Hillcote, and to set up new services and early support for affected families and carers.”