CAMPAIGNERS have been left bitterly disappointed as Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decide the will closure Salisbury’s only respite home for severely disabled children.

The decision was taken at a meeting on Tuesday attended by members of the Save Hillcote group, which has been calling on the CCG to consider alternatives to closing the home.

Chairman Angela Scott said: “We are obviously very disappointed and I still don’t think they have given full consideration to the alternatives we were suggesting, such as using smaller premises locally.

“Whatever they say, I think people south of Salisbury Plain will have a reduced service.”

The CCG, together with Wiltshire Council, have been consulting on closing the home and following concerns expressed by parents and carers of children affected they agreed to delay the closure until March, 2015.

A petition with about 5,000 signatures against the proposed closure of Hillcote was sent to the CCG ahead of the meeting, and members agreed to develop a new specialist carers service with a minimum of two specialist carers in South Wiltshire and to invest in the children’s learning disability service to provide additional support to families.

Julia Cramp, joint associate director for the CCG and Wiltshire Council, said the delay in closing Hillcote was as a direct result of the concerns expressed by parents about whether the specialist carers service could be made to work.

She said: “The proposal to delay the closure gives more time to put a specialist carers scheme in place and for plans to be made with families who currently use Hillcote.”

She also said if families did not want to use specialist carers to send their children to for respite, Canon’s House respite home in Devizes was available and alternative respite facilities outside the county, for example in Dorset, were being considered. She said Canon’s House currently operates at 85 per cent capacity and had additional facilities to Hillcote, such as a hydrotherapy pool.

But parents in Salisbury say the 25-mile trip to Devizes would put their children’s health at risk and are worried how they will get to them in an emergency.

They have also raised concerns about how foster carers will manage bigger teenagers with complex needs and sometimes severe behavioural problems.

The CCG will receive an update on what progress is being made in developing the alternative service later in the year.