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MPs raise concerns with health secretary

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Local MPs David Rutley (Macclesfield), Fiona Bruce (Congleton) and Esther McVey (Tatton) met recently with the secretary of state for health and social care, Jeremy Hunt, to raise concerns about proposals to remove the last remaining adult inpatient care beds in Cheshire East.

Plans by NHS trusts locally will see patient care moved away from Macclesfield’s Millbrook Unit to the Bowmere Hospital in Chester – over forty miles away. (Read more, here.)

At the meeting with the health secretary, the Cheshire MPs highlighted local concerns about the distances that patients in North East Cheshire would have to travel to get to their nearest acute mental health wards, should the proposals be implemented.

David Rutley has heard first-hand from several local residents, who say the proposals would lead to long journey times to visit family and friends, made more difficult by the poor public transport links across Cheshire. (Read more, here.)

The MPs also explained that local residents have told them that they are opposed to the changes being suggested, and more than 3,000 people having signed an online petition started by mental health user advocacy group, the East Cheshire Mental Health Forum.

Mr Rutley said that he also saw strong opposition to the proposals at the first public meeting in Macclesfield that was held as part of the public consultation process which closes today (Tuesday 29th May), and when he attended the second meeting he says it was clear that these concerns are strongly held across local communities.

David expressed to Jeremy Hunt his 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 expand 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 away from Cheshire East.

Following on from their meeting, the MPs issued a statement in which they 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.”

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