Local MPs Raise Concerns About Proposed Mental Health Changes With Health Secretary

Macclesfield’s MP, David Rutley, alongside local MPs Fiona Bruce and Esther McVey, met recently with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt MP, to raise strong concerns about proposals to remove the last remaining adult inpatient care beds in Cheshire East from Macclesfield’s Millbrook Unit to the Bowmere Hospital in Chester, over forty miles away.

At the meeting, the MPs highlighted widely-held local concerns about the distances that many patients in North East Cheshire would have to travel to get to their nearest acute mental health wards, were the proposals to move adult mental health beds to be implemented. As David has heard first-hand from several local residents, travelling these distances would lead to long journey times to visit family and friends, made more difficult by the poor east-west public transport links across Cheshire.

The MPs also explained that local residents are already making it very clear that they are opposed to proposed changes to move acute mental health beds, with over 3,100 people having signed an online petition started by the well-respected local mental health user advocacy group, the East Cheshire Mental Health Forum. David has also received strong negative feedback about the proposals from the first public meeting in Macclesfield that was held as part of the ongoing public consultation process, and, when he attended the second meeting, it was clear that these concerns are strongly held across local communities.

Furthermore, at the meeting with the Secretary of State, David raised his concerns and disappointment that local healthcare managers have not considered options that include retaining an inpatient mental health ward for adults in Macclesfield away from the Millbrook Unit. He suggested that the £1.1 million of capital funding allocated to expanding facilities at the Bowmere Hospital in Chester could be used to establish a new ward in Macclesfield, potentially on the Rosemount site, close to Macclesfield Hospital and Lime Walk House, thereby obviating the need to move beds to Chester from Cheshire East.

Speaking after the meeting, the MPs said, "We are grateful to Jeremy Hunt for meeting with us and for listening to the strong concerns we raised on behalf of local patients and residents about proposals that would lead to all remaining acute adult inpatient mental health beds being removed from Cheshire East to Chester. We continue to oppose the removal of these beds and will continue to actively encourage local health service managers to bring forward further proposals to retain essential mental health beds in our area."