Patients are being faced with a stark choice of the loss of a dementia OR mental health inpatient service at Macclesfield hospital, under new plans unveiled by NHS bosses.
The Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) says it needs to make changes to its services to keep up with increasing demand and reduced budgets.
Under plans unveiled this week the 58-bed Millbrook Unit, which provides beds for people with dementia and adults with acute mental health problems is to close.
And while there are options to move some of the services to Lime Walk House, based on Victoria Road in Macclesfield, this is only big enough to provide beds for either adult mental health or dementia, which means the other service would be moved to Chester.
Dr Ian Hulme, who is a GP and NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG lead for mental health, said a consultation, which is expected to go out to the public next year, will ask people to choose.
He said: “Keeping the Millbrook Unit is not really an option. It’s a choice between older people’s services or if we think it would be better to keep acute adult care in Macclesfield.”
But Coun Alift Harewood-Jones, a former mental health nurse who represents Macclesfield West and Ivy, said the decision is ‘crazy’.
She said: “Is this choice? We need both and we need both locally, not only for people who go through those life events but for the supporters and their nearest and dearest.
“Both these services are essential to the well-being and progress and the maintenance of the local community.
“They are both dependent physiologically and emotionally on the people who support them and the community in which they have risen. Care is not only given by professionals.
“If they need acute care then they should have it in their community. This is crazy, we are going backwards.”
Michael Heale, 68, of Kennedy Avenue, is chairman of the East Cheshire Mental Health Forum, and campaigning to keep both services in the town.
He said: “We shouldn’t have to choose - they should ensure there are provisions for both. If they don’t have the money they should go out and find it.
“We should not have to travel 82 miles for either of these services.”
Macclesfield MP David Rutley said he had serious concerns about patients having to travel to Chester.
He said: “We need to continue to retain high-quality mental health services in and around Macclesfield. Putting a greater emphasis on community mental health services, as Cheshire and Wirral Partnership (CWP) is proposing, is an important objective, but I continue to believe that it is vital to keep beds for adults with acute mental health needs here in Macclesfield.
“Before there is any consultation on the redesign of adult and older people’s mental health services in Cheshire East, CWP will need to clearly justify why, and how, it believes it can deliver adult acute services with only six short-stay beds for crisis care in Macclesfield.
“There are other important questions that need to be answered about the shape and design of community-based packages of mental health care that would be made available, and how they will be delivered for patients.
“I also have strong concerns about the travel times and costs for carers who would need to visit those patients who would receive treatment at Bowmere Hospital in Chester, under CWP’s proposals.
“I will be raising these concerns with Sheena Cumiskey, CWP’s chief executive, at a planned meeting on Friday, and will continue to work closely with East Cheshire Mental Health Forum, our local campaign group, in the weeks ahead.”
PLANS to close the Millbrook Unit are part of a five year plan by Eastern Cheshire NHS Trust.
The move will see services offered by the East Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), South Cheshire CCG and Vale Royal CCG combined.
The three final options have now been outlined, which residents will be consulted on:
Option 1: Close the Millbrook Unit, provide inpatient care for dementia patients at Lime Walk House, on Victoria Road, and send all other adult mental health patients to a Bowmere Hospital in Chester
Option 2: Close the Millbrook Unit, provide inpatient care for adults acute mental health patients at Lime Walk House and send dementia patients to Bowmere Hospital in Chester.
Option 3: Do nothing. Although this formally remains an option, health bosses say it is not possible because Millbrook Unit is no longer fit for purpose.
These options will be put to the governing bodies of three CCGs today (Wednesday) to be approved, before they are put to Cheshire East Council’s Scrutiny Committee on December 7.
This will be followed by a 12 week public consultation which is expected to begin in January. The plans are available to view at www.easterncheshire ccg.nhs.uk/Meetings/ november-2017 .
Doctors say their preferred option is to keep inpatient dementia care in the town - and to move beds for patients with mental health issues to Chester.
They say that the majority of acute mental health care provision for adults would be provided through enhanced community support services.
Dr Ian Hulme, who is NHS Eastern Cheshire lead for Mental Health, said it’s too expensive to bring the Millbrook Unit’s current facilities up to standards required by
the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
He said: “The care given at Millbrook is very good but unfortunately the constrictions of the building - because of its old fashioned design - mean it cannot be brought up to modern standards. Unfortunately the building is not fit for purpose.”
He added that the majority of mental health services can be provided within the community but Dementia patients need inpatient care.
He said: “In Cheshire there is a much older population than the national average. When they get into crisis there is only one option and that’s hospital.
“What we know is that 50 per cent of people admitted for inpatient services [for acute mental health] don’t need to be in [the beds], but at the moment there’s nothing else we can do. Ninety-five pc of all mental health care is in the community.”
Dr Hulme added that there has also been a 35pc increase in demand for mental health care since 2010.
He said: “Unfortunately that increase in demand hasn’t been met. There is a lack of capacity in crisis care and something must be done.”
Dr Anushta Sivananthan, consultant psychiatrist and medical director at CWP, said the reorganised service would enable them to enhance community and home treatment teams for adults in Macclesfield, with the potential for six local short stay beds, a crisis cafe and more mental health nurses in the community.
She said: “There are approximately 5,000 people in the community [requiring secondary mental health support] at any one time and with a wide range of issues. Part of our job is making sure that we that we support them effectively to make sure they don’t get into crisis. With more mental health professionals in place it would mean people are more able to have more choice.”
She added: “What is important is that we really want people engaged in this decision. We want people to work with us to come up with the right decision.”