Mental Health

7pm Thursday 23/7/15 at Stockport Town Hall Defend Mental Health


Campaign to defend Mental health services in Bolton Salford Trafford.

Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Trust are considering proposals to

* close one of the three adult mental health wards at Bolton and

* another at Salford. Total loss of 29 adult beds.

* both to be replaced by community care, details of which have not been given.

* centralise all elderly mental health beds for Bolton, Salford and Trafford at Woodlands in Little Hulton with the loss of 25 older age beds.

We believe bed closures would be harmful for patients.

* 1500 mental health beds have closed in England in the last 2 years. The system is already in crisis with duty workers across England reporting times when there is no bed available anywhere.

* Current occupancy rate in Greater Manchester West wards is 98%. The government believes 85% is a safe occupancy rate. Already we are 13% over-occupied. This would only get worse if beds closed.

* Patients and their families would have to travel miles. This would penalise the poor, prolong recovery, reduce access to leave, reduce contact with family and friends when in hospital. Woodlands is very hard to get to, 15 minutes walk from the nearest bus stop.

* Community workers will have to travel longer to see their patients in hospital, making liaison harder.

* More community staff will be involved in helping people in crisis. This means less time is available for treatment and support which helps people stay well. So more people may become unwell.

* The proposals assume other services will still be there. But councils are also cutting mental health services e.g. Bolton council propose to close residential units. Benefits are being cut. Everywhere services are shrinking.

* Mental illness is increasing due to the stresses caused by the economic recession and austerity.

* The number of elderly people is increasing, but services for them are being cut.

* Replacement community services are not defined, have not been piloted nor are evidence based. It is expected there will be a net loss of jobs. Section 188 threat of redundancy notice have been given to the unions representing staff.

* This is financially driven not patient-care driven. It comes in a context of £20 billion cuts to NHS funding, more than has been cut from any health system ever.

* Greater Manchester West Trust has reserves. These proposals are expected to save £2.2 million a year. Why can’t this come from reserves?

* Manchester’s mental health services are in crisis following similar cuts in beds in the past. When Withington hospital moved to Wythenshaw hospital, the PFI beds were more expensive, so they lost over 30 beds. They never recovered. Now they have an average of 38 people every night in out of area beds. These are often in private hospitals, miles away from home e.g. Doncaster, Plymouth, Darlington.

* Manchester is likely to change its service significantly in the next 2 years. This is likely to require further reorganisation. Why can’t we wait?

* If the elderly wards all go to Woodlands, then the adult wards become too small a unit to be safe or viable and therefore make the closure of these to a centralised unit inevitable. Potentially we could end up with a return to the Victorian system of an asylum miles away from where people live, increasing isolation, stigma. Maybe even back at Prestwich.

The Con Dem government have cut NHS funding by 5% every year, whilst expecting Trusts to provide the same service. This is impossible. We believe that money should be returned to the NHS and that Greater Manchester West NHS Trust should refuse to pass on these cuts and keeps a full, local service.

A group of users, carers, staff, trade unionists, councillors, members of the public met to agree to launch a campaign to stop these closures. All 4 Bolton MPS sent apologies.

There will be formal consultation from January to 30th March 2014. We agreed to do all we can to influence this consultation with the aim of preventing the centralisation and cuts to bed numbers. If community care genuinely reduces the need for beds, then put it in place and close beds only if they really are empty and not needed.

Ideas discussed and agreed

* Call NHS campaign meetings in each locality

Bolton Tues 7th January 6pm Bolton Town Hall

(and every first Tuesday of the month in Bolton)

Salford and Trafford date in early January to be announced.

* Invite users and carers to write about their experiences of needing hospital

* launch a petition

* find out more about Greater Manchester West Health and Scrutiny Committee and which councillors are on it.

* Call a demonstration against the closures near the end of the consultation, provisionally Saturday 15th March in Eccles.

* Produce an information sheet and send out to interested parties asking for their support.

* Contact press

* Encourage people to attend the public consultation meetings which will be held January to March 2014.

What can you do

1) Take a copy of the petition and information sheet

2) come to our planning meetings as above

3) Ask people to join the campaign by emailing

4) Visit or write to your councillor and MP asking them to support our campaign.

5) Invite a speaker to any meeting you are involved in by ringing 07972 120 451 or email or

6) Make a donation to the campaign by sending a cheque made out to Bolton TUC marked as for the Save our NHS campaign, Trade union office, Trust Headquarters, Bury New Road, Prestwich, Manchester M25 3BL

7) Join us petitioning 11.30 – 1pm Sat 11th Jan Farnworth outside post office.

Sat 18th January Eccles Precinct by Cash Converters

Sat 25th Jan Bolton outside Fred Dibnah statue.


Report by Pia Feig

Private “Beds” in the Manchester Mental Independent Report

The NHS in Manchester has used private hospital beds for years – at least 7 years, to my knowledge. It has never been clear why these patients could not be treated in NHS facilities.  The private mental health care facilities are certainly not all in Manchester or near-bye. The continual use of private provision shows how inadequate the Manchester NHS mental health care provision is.

Of more concern to the accountants and planners in the 3 Manchester CCGs is that the money spent on these private “beds” has pushed the budget into over-spend. And now there appears to be a discrepancy between the number of places the budget (2012/13) has allowed for (been commissioned) and how many places the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust is buying.

So even before they were official, legal entities the 3 CCGs, with Manchester City Council bought in a private firm “Mental Health Strategies” (part of Niche Health and Social Care Consulting) to review the commissioning of mental health care for Manchester and report by the end of March 2013.

But was the Independent Review to look at the use of private “beds”?
In January, well into the Independent Review’ s investigation, Craig Harris, a Director of Nursing who reported on this to the 3 CCGs said “NO!” Private hospitals were commissioned on a short-term basis and so would not be included.  However, in response to a question from KONP member, Ian Williamson, the Chief Officer of Central Manchester CCG assured us that they would be considered – not “as such” but as part of the range of mental health care services that are commissioned in Manchester.

NHS staff who work with the patients who are treated in these private facilities are very worried about the quality of the care provided.  Because the “beds” are often far away, the family and carers of the people being treated find it difficult to maintain contact with them.  More clearly, the staff in private hospitals are kept separated from local, Manchester community support staff.  Private providers play no role in rehabilitation or on-going support.  It is staff in Manchester (Mental Health) Community Services  who pick up the care when the patient comes home. One senior community support professional described the staff in the private hospitals as “unaccountable” for the treatment they provide.  The figures show that there is a much higher rate of re-admission to hospital for patients treated in private facilities.

So why does Manchester continue to buy in mental health care from private firms, who provide second grade care and are too expensive for Manchester NHS to afford?  Let’s hope the Independent Report addresses this question.

Although its late in the day, I urge all who have a point to make on the commissioning of mental health services to attend the consultation meetings organised by the Mental Health Strategies or contact Craig Harris who is based in the NHS Manchester Parkway offices. (Failing that, I took these contact details from the Mental Health Strategies website   T: 0161 785 1001  F: 0161 785 1009).