A clinic offering vital services to the visually impaired has been offered a lifeline. 

The Low Vision Clinic at Montague House, Brighton, was stripped of its funding by the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). 

The decision by the CCG, which is responsible for commissioning health and care services in the city, put the service in a precarious position.

The clinic provides optical aids for some 400 visually impaired people each year.

Its future has now been secured for another year after Brighton and Hove City Council, whose adult social care department runs the service, stepped in. 

A council spokeman said: “Brighton and Hove City Council can confirm that it has been able to resource a Low Vision Clinic service in 2018/19. 

“This decision has been taken in response to the withdrawal of funding for Brighton and Hove’s Low Vision Clinic by our Clinical Commissioning Group partners. 

“The council will continue to negotiate with our CCG and third sector partners in finding a long-term solution to funding this valuable and needed provision.”

Daniel Brookbank, East Sussex Association of Blind and Partially Sighted People chief executive, said people from outside Brighton and Hove who use the centre would be affected.

He said: “We have had meetings with adult social care and the CCG to talk about it and our members have been saying they are worried this service is going. 

“The city council’s adult social care are picking up the costs for another year, but there are people who come in from outside Brighton, like Lewes, who will be affected.

“The Haywards Heath Low Vision service will also be affected in a big way. It is worrying we simply don’t know what will happen from 2019.”

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas has been inundated with emails and letters from concerned constituents.

She said: “I had the opportunity to drop into Montague House, where the Low Vision service is based, and I was impressed by what I saw. The assessments they carry out provide reassurance, emotional support, and positive encouragement, in addition to practical advice about visual aids and support to make independent living easier.

“I’ve written to the CCG to stress my concerns about their decision. I’ve also written to the executive director of health and adult social care at the city council about the impact of the loss of the service.

"Whilst this decision has been made locally, unpalatable commissioning decisions are being made because of the Government’s continued assault on our public services.”

A Brighton and Hove CCG spokesman said: “Following  an in-depth review of the the Low Vision service, we decided to no longer fund the service currently provided in  Brighton and Haywards Heath. CCGs have a responsibility to review the services it commissions regularly to ensure they offer the most effective health (clinical) care, that they represent good value for money and that they do not duplicate other services offered in the City.

“Brighton and Hove City Council have confirmed that it has been able to resource a Low Vision Clinic service in 2018/19 for residents of the City so patients should see minimal changes to the service. We will continue to work closely with the council and third sector partners around a long term solution to funding this service.

“For residents in the Horsham and Mid Sussex and High Weald Lewes havens areas, Low Vision services can be accessed via West Sussex County Council and East Sussex County Council respectively.”