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Residents must fight for future of mental health unit

Peter Hayes, who was chairman of the East Cheshire NHS Trust, has urged people to support the Millbrook Unit in Macclesfield

Peter Hayes says people of Macclesfield should fight for the future of the Mental Health Ward

The ex-boss of the hospital trust has urged the people of Macclesfield to fight for their mental health unit.

Peter Hayes, 77, was chairman of Macclesfield District Health Authority which became East Cheshire NHS Trust from 1989 to 2001. He was in charge when the town’s old mental health hospital, Parkside, closed and the Millbrook Unit was built instead.

He has hit out over plans by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), which runs the Millbrook Unit, to close it and move patients to Bowmere Hospital in Chester or Springview in the Wirral, an 80 mile round trip away.

A campaign is underway to save the unit and an online petition has nearly 1,800 signatures.

Peter, who lives in Siddington and sold his financial services company to become chairman of the trust after his two children were cared for at the hospital, has urged people to sign the petition.

He said: “I’m shocked and disappointed what’s happening to the Millbrook Unit.

“It’s an outrage. Macclesfield needs its own mental health unit. People should not have to travel 40 miles. When Parkside was open it had 2,600 beds. New legislation came in and we had to close it but we needed another facility to look after 50 inpatients so we opened the Millbrook unit. I fought hard to keep it as part of the hospital and said it should be kept at all costs, so I was greatly distressed that the running of it was passed to CWP. Now it’s out on a limb and they are just cutting it off. I worked with MP Nicholas Winterton putting pressure on the health minister at the time to save the hospital’s maternity unit. I think the chairman and those in charge at the hospital with MP David Rutley need to fight to keep Millbrook open and bring it back into Macclesfield’s control. I urge the people of Macclesfield to sign the petition and support their mental health unit to the hilt. If we lose another service soon we won’t have anything left.”

Peter disagrees that the unit is ‘no longer fit for purpose’, a reason given by CWP for closing it.

The trust has drawn up options for reviewing mental health services in Cheshire East and its preferred option is to close the Millbrook Unit, focusing instead on community care. A public consultation on the redesign of adult and older peoples’ mental health services is expected to take place later this year.

Macclesfield MP David Rutley agreed that it is vital for mental health service to reamin in Macclesfield.

He said: "Having high quality mental health services in Macclesfield is vital for local residents and for communities across Cheshire East. I will be meeting the chief executive of Cheshire & Wirral Partnership (CWP), our mental health service provider, in the near future to raise local concerns, and my own concerns, about future plans. I will also press CWP to not only improve community mental health services, but also to ensure that we keep beds for those with acute mental health needs here in Macclesfield."

A joint statement from Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) and NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group reiterated that no decision has yet been made.

They said: “We would like to reassure people that no decision has been made regarding the future of the Millbrook unit and that inpatient mental health services will continue to be available to those who need them.

“We are currently reviewing how we move forward in consulting on how to provide the best mental health services we can within the allocated funding. Our aim is always to deliver the best care for people who access our services and those who support them.”

Go to doyoumind.co.uk for more on the campaign and to sign the petition.

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