The Crisis Facing Mental Health Services In Cheshire East
Cheshire East’s Mental Health Service provision has been seriously underfunded for many years, ever since the closure of the Parkside Hospital complex in Macclesfield in 1997. Most of the money generated from the sale of this massive infrastructure, to various property developers, went back to Central Government.
Today Cheshire East’s inpatients are serviced from a limited number of small buildings, retained on the old Parkside Hospital site in Macclesfield, which have been described as barely fit for purpose when compared with those available to Service Users in West Cheshire (inc Chester) and on the Wirral. Adequate gender separation is sometimes difficult to achieve, very few rooms have en-suite facilities and there is no discreet PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Facilities) available on site. Those requiring such treatment have to be transferred to Chester’s Bowmere Hospital or Springview Hospital on the Wirral.
We can either accept the inevitable worsening of Mental Health Services in Cheshire East or ask the 5 local MP’s and Local Councillors in Cheshire East to seek an injection of both capital and ongoing running costs to put right this historical injustice:
1) As an absolute minimum Cheshire East needs to be allocated an additional £1.5 million per annum to maintain current service levels and facilities. It should be noted that this option does nothing to address the historic funding shortfall versus the national average spend per head on mental health. For this to be addressed an additional £20 million per annum would be required. The services that could be added and/or improved upon with this level of increased ongoing funding include 24/7 crisis intervention, improved psychiatric liason services in acute general hospitals,PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit)* and better community based dementia services. Recovery colleges and street triage also need further development funding.
*PICU services to be provided locally in Cheshire East, rather than requiring severely ill patients to be transported to Chester or the Wirral.
Mental Health needs to be given true "parity of esteem" with physical health
2) The geography, communication links, demographics and population size of Cheshire East are such that serious consideration should also be given to re-establishing local fit for purpose in-patient facilities somewhere in Central Cheshire. A new build 40-50 bed hospital, providing all the necessary inpatient and outpatient facilities, would probably require a capital injection of circa £35 million. Such a facility would replace the existing Millbrook unit in Macclesfield as well as the previously closed inpatient mental health facility at Leighton Hospital.
3) The introduction of CCGs as commissioners was in part built upon the premise that local GP groupings knew best the needs of their local population. This may be a reasonable assumption in the case of physical health, but it has not produced the necessary allocation of resources to provide a sustainable, comprehensive mental health service within Cheshire East. To achieve true “Parity of Esteem” for mental health services the Department of Health should consider testing a different organisational structure whereby funds were bid for and allocated centrally with local experts in mental health deciding how the budgets were allocated . Cheshire East should be considered for such a test given the problems it has experienced and the clearly defined boundaries that its key partners operate within. CCG's (G.P.'s) should concentrate on addressing the 15 -20 year year lifespan differential faced by those suffering from physical problems linked to their mental health. Social Services focus should be on the more holistic aspects of the "recovery process" (accommodation needs, employment support and benefits advocacy). Social network peer support is another vital part of the recovery process.