Plans to improve the care of over 7,000 people who require support with serious, long-term mental health problems have received the green light.
Enhanced community services – for people in Eastern Cheshire, South Cheshire and Vale Royal – will include a new dementia outreach service and 24/7 crisis care, alongside modern inpatient facilities for those that require hospital care.
Dr Ian Hulme – speaking on behalf of the NHS clinical commissioning groups in Eastern Cheshire, South Cheshire and Vale Royal – commented: “As a local GP I am delighted that local people will now be able to access much better support for their mental health.
“Last week the NHS published its Long Term Plan for how care should look in the future which included more focus on prevention, providing support in a crisis, and a much better range of community support.
“We are delighted that our local plans reflect that ambition and, whilst we realise there is still a lot more to do to improve mental health care, we are confident our new model of care is a huge step in the right direction.”
Dr Anushta Sivananthan, medical director at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We are extremely grateful to our service users and carers, mental health forums, Healthwatch, other local community groups, our staff and the public who have all contributed to the new model of care.
“As a consultant psychiatrist I am passionate about getting the right care for my patients – at the right time and in the right place.
“This new model of care sets the foundation to do that and has been brought about by collaborative working across the NHS, social care and with patients and the public.”
The new care model will cater for the following provisions:
- Improved community mental health teams, with 30 more staff
- Improved crisis home treatment teams, with 8 more staff
- A new dementia outreach service to support people in their homes and care homes
- 26 specialist inpatient beds at Lime Walk House in Macclesfield for adults and older people with serious mental ill health (plus four complex/intensive care beds in Chester and an extra three beds in Wirral)
- 15 specialist inpatient beds in Macclesfield for people with dementia (based on the Macclesfield district general hospital site)
- 6 community-based crisis beds, in locations to be determined in partnership with service users
- 13 rehabilitation beds in Chester
The inpatient beds currently situated within the Millbrook Unit on the Macclesfield Hospital site will be re-provided and replaced by 47 local beds designed to the latest modern standards, meeting the privacy and dignity requirements set out by the Care Quality Commission.
Together with enhanced local community support, a further seven beds for people with very complex needs will be provided in Chester and Wirral, bringing the total re-provided beds to 54.
This approach is in line with current arrangements, where people requiring a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) receive their care in Chester or Wirral.
A public consultation on how to provide mental health care in the region ran from 6th March to 29th May 2018 and offered three shortlisted options for consideration.
Against a backdrop of strong public opposition to the proposals, healthcare bosses altered their initial plans which threatened the removal of mental health beds in Macclesfield.
The revised proposal, called ‘Option 2 Plus’, was given final approval following an additional one month consultation period on the move of 13 rehabilitation patients from Lime Walk House in Macclesfield to Bowmere Hospital in Chester.
The outcome of the additional public consultation was reported to the Cheshire East Local Authority Health and Social Care Scrutiny Meeting on 17th January 2019.
The scrutiny committee confirmed due process had been followed during this consultation, and the previous three month consultation, and welcomed the new model of care.
Option 2 Plus was developed to maximise the number of inpatient beds kept in Macclesfield.
It provides a response to concerns expressed during the initial 12-week consultation about increased travel time for people visiting loved ones if all inpatient beds for people with functional mental ill health or dementia were moved from Macclesfield to Chester.
Alongside the East Cheshire Mental Health Forum, local MPs, including Macclesfield MP David Rutley, actively campaigned to retain mental health beds in Macclesfield.
Commenting on the newly-approved plans, Mr Rutley said: “I am grateful to [NHS bosses] for confirming that much-needed inpatient mental health beds for adults are to stay in Macclesfield, where they belong.
“I hope that this provides local patients, and their families and carers, with reassurance that they will be able to receive the treatment that they need closer to their homes and local communities.
“I look forward to continuing to work with local health service leaders as these vital plans are taken forward.”