Danesbury services must not be lost

PUBLISHED: 16:12 01 May 2008 | UPDATED: 21:01 26 October 2009

SIR – I was pleased to see the WHT continuing to support David Davis efforts to protect the vital respite service provided by Danesbury Home to him and many others suffering from multiple sclerosis and other disabling neurological conditions (WHT, April

SIR - I was pleased to see the WHT continuing to support David Davis' efforts to protect the vital respite service provided by Danesbury Home to him and many others suffering from multiple sclerosis and other disabling neurological conditions (WHT, April 16).

The Friends have supported the services provided by Danesbury since long before it was housed in the current purpose-built facility. Indeed the Friends raised £860,000 towards the cost of the new building in School Lane, Welwyn and since its occupation have contributed many hundreds of thousands of pounds to help equip the premises and support the excellent standards of care provided by a dedicated staff. None of this would have been possible without the support of our local community for whom Danesbury Home and indeed the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital are vital elements.

We are very aware that the potential of the Danesbury building has never been fully exploited. The commitment of the NHS management in the early 1990s was dissipated by a series of personnel and structural changes which have continued to the current time.

The plans to develop neurological rehabilitation services referred to in your articles are an exciting concept which would benefit people in Hertfordshire by avoiding transfer to more remote facilities. However these plans will inevitably take some time to come to fruition.

Since the opening of the "new Danesbury" in 1993 up to 17 rooms have been allocated for respite services. The recent statements to the WHT state "we have no intention to reduce the rolling respite beds at Danesbury".

From April 1 only six beds have been allocated and the administrator has had to divide these amongst the patients who currently benefit from the service. In other words the provision has been more than halved to the distress and concern of some 50 patients.

In virtually all cases these patients have active minds but severely disabled bodies. All of their personal needs, including feeding, have to be provided by their carers. It is difficult to exaggerate the stress of providing such care.

In addition to the benefits of respite for the carer periods in Danesbury allow the patients' condition to be appraised and they are looked after by staff who are familiar with the problems of MS and similar conditions. That high standard of care at Danesbury has been recognised by the MS Society for whom Danesbury is an accredited provider.

It would seem that the action of the PCT in arbitrarily slashing care provided to so many patients must be driven by a further push to cut costs. It is appalling that they should choose to inflict such distress on such vulnerable people.

I trust that they will now fulfil their own spokeswoman's statement and restore the excellent care they have provided in the past.

Alan Toms, chairman, Friends of Danesbury and Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital.


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