THE FIGHT is on to block controversial plans that would see the loss of a key mental health inpatient service to Macclesfield.

Under plans revealed in last week’s Macclesfield Express NHS bosses say patients are facing a stark choice of the loss of a dementia or mental health inpatient service based at Macclesfield Hospital.

Health bosses say that the Millbrook Unit, which houses the services, is no longer fit for purpose and that one of the services will move to Lime Walk House on Victoria Road in Macclesfield while the other will have to move to Chester.

The plans have been met with a furious response with campaigners saying it would be a disaster for patients if either of the services were to close.

More than 4,000 people have signed two petitions to save services.

And Macclesfield MP David Rutley has urged Cheshire East Council’s Health, Adult Social Care and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee to block any move to take the plan to a wider public consultation, until ‘vital questions’ have been fully answered and the proposals have been ‘substantially improved’.

Under the plans just six crisis beds would be made available to patients using whichever of the services is moved to Chester.

At a meeting with Sheena Cumiskey, chief executive of the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership (CWP), the local mental health service provider, Mr Rutley said he raised his ‘strong concerns’ and said that the Partnership needs to explain how it feels it can deliver acute adult mental health services with only six crisis beds.

Mr Rutley said: “It is vital we retain high-quality mental health services for adults with acute needs in Macclesfield.

“There are still key questions that need to be answered before CWP should consider moving to a public consultation, and it must more clearly demonstrate how it will sustainably and safely deliver any proposals for future services.

“I will continue to keep close to this vital issue and work with our campaign group East Cheshire Mental Health Forum.”

The proposals will go out to consultation if the scrutiny committee signs them off on December 7.

The Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), NHS Eastern Cheshire, South Cheshire and Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have released a joint statement, which said: “The proposals have been designed by consultant psychiatrists, GPs and other health and social care professionals to respond to patient need and responding to feedback given by service users and carers.

“The proposals aim to provide better and more community-based services for people with acute mental health needs, which means good quality care closer to home where possible for the 3,000 people who access our community services in the NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG area.

“Service users and carers are right to say that it isn’t acceptable to focus only on services for people when they have already reached a crisis.

“We want to prevent people reaching crisis in the first place. At the moment there aren’t enough community services, including crisis centres and dementia outreach services to support people within their own home.

“The intention is to seek views via a public consultation around the options that would enable us to provide more community-based services and prevent people from becoming so poorly that they need a hospital stay. We wish to have a wider debate with local people about these issues and the solutions to the challenges we face.”

Campaigners have hit out at health bosses for asking people to choose between mental health or dementia care beds. Members of the community reacted angrily after the latest proposals to close the Millbrook Unit were revealed in last week’s Express.

Former nurse Michael Trafford, who has worked with mental health services for 36 years and was based at the old Parkside hospital, said: “This is not a choice. The options are ridiculous.

Michael Heale is leading a campaign to save Macclesfield's mental health unit

“It’s like being asked to choose between your right and left arm. We need both.

“It’s awful what’s happening to mental health services in Macclesfield. We’re talking about saving lives. A high percentage of patients on the unit are sectioned under the mental health act. They need to be in hospital.

“It’s disgraceful. CWP was brought in to protect services. If they don’t have the money, it’s their job to find it.”

Mr Trafford, 56, who lives on Arlington Drive in Macclesfield, says the Millbrook Unit currently has two wards caring for patients with mental health issues, and that he has seen figures showing that of the 35 beds in the two wards, 26 of which are being used by patients sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The CWP said they would not comment on the figures.

Mr Trafford added: “These figures should be a ‘red flag’ to the trust and the CCG - to put it simply it’s a measure of how ‘ill’ you have to be to get a mental health inpatient bed in East Cheshire.

“It should also be seen as an ‘alarm bell’ regarding the pressure community services must be under too. These services must not be closed under any circumstances - indeed quite the opposite. This really is a mental health inpatient crisis.”

Michael Heale is leading a campaign to save Macclesfield's mental health unit. He has suffered from mental health problems himself and been a patient at the unit GV - General View of the Millbrook Unit at Macclesfield Hospital 27 June 2017 Pic Dominic Salter

A petition by East Cheshire Mental Health Forum at has nearly 3,000 signatures.

Michael Heale, of the forum, who lives on Kennedy Avenue, Macclesfield, said: “We will not stop fighting these plans. Dropping down to six beds for adult mental health is nowhere near enough.

“And more people are suffering from dementia, we need both services in Macclesfield.”

Rob Vernon, from Macclesfield Constituency Labour Party, is running another petition with more than 1,200 signatures to save the unit. It calls on the council and government to step in with funding.

Rob said: “Having to choose between those things is ridiculous. Both are vital in our community. We’re fighting to keep the unit open. We’re challenging the council to intervene in the interests of residents.

“As vice chairman of Macclesfield Constituency Labour Party but more importantly a Maxonian with personal and family experience of mental health problems, this is close to my heart, and the majority of residents too.

“We face a mental health crisis and cannot allow this to happen.”

Visit for Rob’s petition.

  • 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:
  • l 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
  • l Option 2: Close the Millbrook Unit, provide inpatient care for adults with acute mental health problems at Lime Walk House and send dementia patients to Bowmere Hospital in Chester.
  • l 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 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 november-2017.