Anger at closure of mental health unit
ANGER has been sparked after it was confirmed the Millbrook Unit - which houses Macclesfield’s mental health services - will shut.
Health bosses rubberstamped plans to shut the unit, at Macclesfield District General Hospital, next year at a meeting on Thursday.
Services will remain in the town as inpatient beds for adult metal health patients and dementia patients will both transfer to Lime Walk House.
The decision follows a consultation and was considered a last minute ‘preferred option’ that replaced plans to move services to Chester, which were fiercely opposed.
But mental health patients with the most complex needs will have to travel to Bowmere, Chester, and opponents have hit out at the decision to close the Millbrook Unit.
Colette Jackson, who used to work at the unit, said: “Why do this when there is an increase in demand? Services are already stretched.
“I used to work here on Adelphi (Ward). We were always full and busy. This is dreadful and frighting for those in need. It is far from ideal for people with dementia to be sharing services with people that are acutely unwell.
“The NHS will only end up paying more for beds out of area. Those that make these decisions have absolutely no idea and no experience of day to day challenges. This is devastating new for our community.”
The decision is part of wider plans to change care for adult mental health patients and dementia patients across east Cheshire - which also include investment into a 24-hour crisis support service, community beds, therapy and home treatment.
It has been made by NHS Eastern Cheshire, South Cheshire and Vale Royal clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
At the meeting Jacki Wilkes, lead officer on the project, told commissioners that they had ‘a real opportunity’ to deliver much-needed change to mental health care and meet the needs of patients.
She said: “We know that there is an increasing demand for specialist mental health services.
“And we know also that, for the majority of patients with specialist needs, the majority of the care takes place in the community.
“We heard extensively that users of the service feel there is a distinct lack of choice around early intervention and prevention services - but very specifically around crisis support.”
Previously the preferred option had been to keep dementia services at Lime Walk House but move adult care to Bowmere.
This prompted a huge opposition campaign involving East Cheshire Mental Health Forum, the Macclesfield Express and MP David Rutley.
A new option was put forward last week for 15 beds for dementia patients plus 26 for adult mental health patients to all be provided in Mac- clesfield.
It would require an additional £730,000 from NHS budgets - although the CCGs would still make a saving of £500,000 over their current spend.
Community beds and improvements to crisis support will be in place before Millbrook is closed, the CCGs have said.
Mr Rutley paid tribute to the campaign to keep mental health services in Macclesfield and said: “This announcement is a positive step forward and I am grateful to local health service leaders for listening to the clear strength of public opinion.”
A strong campaign lead by Michael Heale, inset, to save Macclesfield’s mental health unit has failed, but services will remain in the town as inpatient beds for adult metal health patients and dementia patients will both transfer to Lime Walk House