Respite centre closes to plug serious shortfall in nursing

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DISABLED CHILDREN and their families have been hit by the sudden closure of a vital respite service in the region as NHS chiefs battle to plug serious shortages of nurses at a top hospital.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital has been forced to draft in more nurses to its wards to deal with a surge in patients with complex conditions.

The move has led to the temporary closure of Ryegate House in Broomhill, which runs a 24-hour respite service for severely disabled youngsters, a mile from the main hospital site. The shutdown leaves families of youngsters with complex conditions with no alternative provision and with no date when services might re-open.

Eva Juusola, of Sheffield Parent Carer Forum, said: “Our recent survey of 320 parents of disabled children highlighted just how important respite is for these vulnerable families.

“Two thirds of the respondents said that a reduction in short breaks or respite provision would have a ‘significant’ or ‘devastating’ impact on them. Respite is a vital preventative service and needs to be properly resourced, to prevent families from falling into crisis.”

John Reid, director of nursing and clinical operations at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said: “Regrettably the Ryegate House respite service will not be available for bookings until at least the end of April.

“We are sorry for the impact this will have on the families we work with. We have contacted those families personally by telephone and letter.

“A temporary closure at Ryegate House was necessary due to a significant rise in the number of children being admitted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

“These children have been increasingly ill and in need of more complex medical or nursing treatment. In order to respond to the needs of these children, we have decided to redeploy the nursing staff from Ryegate House to one of our wards that caters for children with special needs and neuro-disability. This will help to ensure that all acutely ill children are adequately cared for at the hospital and that patient safety is maintained.

“We know the respite service is hugely valued by families so we are working to reopen as soon as possible.”

The children’s hospital, like others across the country, has been hit by growing demand for care and shortages of key nursing staff, which left it unable to open extra beds as planned over winter

It was due to make a £2.7m surplus in 2014-15 but latest predictions suggest it will be only £200,000 in the black.