Trust chiefs were grilled at a public meeting over shock plans to axe £1.5m in frontline services
9 th December. 2015
Manchester’s mental health trust bosses have faced the wrath of patients and trade unions at a stormy meeting on £1.5m in ‘cruel’ cuts to frontline services.
Health chiefs were accused of deciding the fate of patients before a public consultation had even been carried out.
The town hall had ordered a one-off meeting to investigate why Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust had announced such huge cuts, which would see services for at least 630 people withdrawn.
They include community therapies that help people with a range of illnesses, from depression to anxiety and bi-polar.
READ MORE: Mental health services centre could be saved
READ MORE: Your questions about mental health answered
Originally no public consultation had been planned but after pressure from councillors, one has now been launched – although it emerged during the meeting that the unions had not seen it.
Furious Royal College of Nursing union representative Maria Bryant told the meeting she was ‘wholly embarrassed’ by that, adding: “The RCN is going to object as we do believe it should be considered in a meaningful way.”
Unison branch secretary Ben Jackson called the cuts ‘shameful’ and ‘cruel’, warning they would hit around 800 patients, not the 630 claimed.
Carer Alison Curtis told the meeting: “The trust want to make the decision and do the consultation after.”
Even with the cuts, the trust is unable to balance its books this year – partly due to £3m in redundancy costs caused by the council withdrawing funding.
Asked why it did not have more in its reserves to cover such costs, MMHSCT chief executive Michele Moran said it did have £2m put aside, but it was not enough. She said the trust had asked the town hall for help with the bill but none had been forthcoming.
Ms Moran – a former nurse – said the cuts did ‘not sit comfortably’ with her and insisted they had come as a ‘last resort’.
Both she and Craig Harris, of the three Manchester clinical commissioners, insisted the consultation will be transparent.
Mr Harris added: “We do need to make this consultation as meaningful as possible.”
To take part in the consultation visit www.mhsc.nhs.uk , click on ‘about the trust’ and go to ‘public consultations’.
The consultation closes on February 21 and no decision will be made until the end of March
Follow JENNIFER WILLIAMS on Twitter @JenWilliamsMEN