A social media campaign highlighted by The Chronicle has led to the West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) suspending plans to make funding cuts which would stop sick children receiving hospital care in the comfort of their own homes.
Cheshire MPs Justin Madders and Chris Matheson joined dozens of parents who set up a petition fighting against the cuts, after it was announced the CCG were to stop providing the £450,000 funding for the service at the Countess of Chester Hospital .
The service was used by scores of children who benefited from receiving hospital care in their own homes and it also enabled more beds to be free for youngsters who were in urgent need of them.
However, the CCG said that the service had been introduced as a pilot and was being pulled because subsequent anticipated savings had ‘not been realised’, sparking an outcry from parents and staff at the Countess who said that the service was 'vital'.
Speaking on behalf of all paediatric staff at the Countess, Dr Ravi Jayaram, consultant and lead clinician for children’s services, said the service had had ‘hugely positive feedback’ from children and families.
Now just one day before campaigners were due to meet CCG representatives at the Countess of Chester Hospital to hand over a petition which has amassed more than 5000 signatures , a statement from the CCG released today said they would suspend the planned changes and felt 'confident' they could find a more affordable service solution.
The full statement reads: "NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have agreed to suspend changes to the current provision of local paediatric services and, in particular, the children’s hospital at home service.
"We fully understand and accept the concerns raised by people who have written to us and contacted us via social media.
"We recognise money is tight and by continuing talks between clinicians and commissioners, as well as listening to our patients, we are confident that we can find a more affordable service solution. Along with many clinical commissioning groups and Ttrusts in the country, we face severe financial pressures and what we must all do is provide the best care we can with the resources we have."
'A step in the right direction'
Helen Till, whose son Drew benefited from the hospital care at home service during his battle with the rare genetic condition Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, told The Chronicle she was 'delighted' at the news, but encouraged people to keep supporting the campaign.
"I'm delighted that all the hard work put in by people to support the #saveourhospitalathome campaign has been recognised, along with the importance of the service to the local community," she said. "I'm fully aware that this isn't the end of our challenge, and we need to keep up the pressure, but it's most definitely a step in the right direction."
Likewise, those behind the Save Our Hospital at Home campaign called the news 'a positive step' but said tomorrow's presentation of the petition would still be going ahead as planned.
Katie Kendrick said: "We are pleased the CCG and the Countess Of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust have agreed to suspend changes to the children’s hospital at home service.
"This is certainly a step in the right direction. However the campaign to save this service is far from over and we urge the local community to continue to support our campaign to reverse this decision.
"The support from the local community has been outstanding which in turns reflects how highly regarded and valuable this service is.
"Whilst we appreciate the financial restraints placed upon the trust at this time we all feel cutting this community service is not the answer and a short term fix that will have huge financial implications down the line," she added.