A petition has been launched by parents of disabled children urging NHS Tayside to reverse respite care cuts – amid fears the service could close.
Glenlaw House, based at Kings Cross Hospital in Dundee, provides overnight care for children aged up to 18 with severe profound learning disabilities and complex healthcare needs.
But families who use the service say the number of beds has been slashed in the past five years from six to just two during the week, with no emergency beds.
Lead petitioner Leigh Walsh, whose son Riley stays at the facility, said: “Each cut was made with no consultation with parents and carers. This service is a lifeline to most and is the only break from providing 24-hour care to our kids.
“Glenlaw is the only respite facility our children can attend due to the complex medical needs they have – we fear the next step will be the closure of our much- needed respite unit.”
Jenny McMillan’s son Blake has the rare genetic condition MECP2 duplication syndrome, and is unable to eat, walk or talk.
She said: “Respite it is so important and we are very grateful for it. Some families don’t get it at all and that must be awful. It’s a service that should be expanding, not shrinking.
“If we can’t manage our children because we can’t get the respite we need and deserve, some of us will just give up because we just can’t handle it anymore.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “There have been significant challenges recruiting to vacant posts within the complex disability service.
“This has meant that the number of beds that we can safely operate at Glenlaw House has been reduced on an interim basis. This reduction in beds is required to maintain safe staffing ratios and protect children we look after and ensure the wellbeing of our staff.
“Children continue to receive respite care, although at a reduced frequency.”