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Uncertainty over NHS reforms threatens future of world leading cerebal palsy centre

PUBLISHED: 07:05 06 March 2012

Boyle family (L-R Patricia Boyle, Steven Boyle and their son Thomas Boyle)

Boyle family (L-R Patricia Boyle, Steven Boyle and their son Thomas Boyle)

Archant

A question mark hangs over the future of a world-renowned centre that provides care and hope for children with cerebral palsy.

The Bobath Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy, in East End Road, East Finchley, is facing the biggest crisis of its 55-year history due to a drop in funding.

Managers claim uncertainty about the outcome of the government’s controversial NHS reforms has led to a failure by health authorities to fund patients.

Ten-year-old Thomas Boyle has been treated by the Bobath Centre, which was based in Netherhall Gardens, Hampstead, until 1993, every year since he was four years old.

But the last time the family applied for funding it took two years to be approved, setting Thomas back a year and raising fears he could develop bone deformities and behavioural problems on top of his existing disabilities.

Father Steven said: “It’s vital that the right development and techniques are put into place at the earliest possible stage.

“This could prove the difference between avoiding painful surgery that he may never fully recover from.”

Bobath therapy is a world-renowned and highly sought-after specialist form of physiotherapy.

Without it Thomas’ cerebral palsy and other medical conditions would worsen.

“The two-year decision period has effectively cost Tom a year of treatment,” said his father. “In previous years the decision was made within a reasonable timeframe and treatment was scheduled every year.

“Our circumstances are not the worst. I have met other parents at the centre who have had to fund the treatment themselves because their local primary care trusts have refused outright to provide a financial commitment.

“Losing the Bobath Centre would be a social and economic disaster for us all and must never happen.”

Patient numbers have dropped by half since 2010, from 20 to nine per month, for the two-week courses of intensive therapy which cost £3,600.

Jayne Pearce, Bobath Centre director, said: “In the past six months patient numbers have dropped dramatically.

“Funding for treatment is either being delayed, refused, or made so onerous that families have been forced to give up.”

“With the decline in patient numbers comes a decline in income.

“It is impossible to cut expenditure to the same degree without it having a drastic impact on our service.”

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