What people are saying about Manchester’s £1.5m mental health cuts

Here’s what patients, trade unionists, politicians, commissioners and mental health workers are saying about yesterday’s decision

When revealed the plans back in October they prompted a public outcry.

But despite a public consultation finding people massively against the move – and warnings that it will cost lives – the trust has pushed ahead with the cut, arguing it doesn’t have enough money to balance its books otherwise.

Patients, trade unions, politicians and mental health staff have all reacted with horror to the move, many of them arguing a bailout of some kind must have been possible.

READ MORE: The nurse who nailed exactly how people feel about the mental health cuts

READ MORE: Recap live updates as Manchester’s mental health trust meet to push ahead in axing £1.5m of frontline services

Here’s what they told us.

Harry Yearsley, 69, has used Benchmark – a community-based joinery workshop that was scrapped this morning – for 15 years.

“I had a severe head injury and it left me with depression. Benchmark really, really helps me and I look forward so much to attending it.

“It’s the camaraderie of people in the same environment with similar illnesses.


Harry Yearsley

“I feel extremely angry. Really angry. At my age now I’m nearly 70, but for other people with worse cases than mine, what’s going to happen to them?

“If I hadn’t been for Benchmark, the state I was in I don’t think I would be around today talking to you.

“Benchmark is essential.”

An un-named Mental health worker

“These are all specialist services being closed down. They are saying there should be parity between mental and physical health.

“Yet they are getting rid of all the evidence based parts of the service.

Crowds gather to protest the cuts

“The employment support service is the only evidence based service for this group of people and it has a proper track record.

“Everyone is going on about getting people back to work and they are cutting the only evidence based employment service.”

Wendy Allison, Unison regional organiser

“Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust hasn’t worked since its inception.

“There’s a number of reasons for that. One of them is the white elephant of the PFI [the Laureate House unit in Wythenshawe, which was built under Private Finance Initiative].

“The other is that mental health funding has never taken into account some of the specific social causes of mental health problems, including poverty and drug use, which are so prevalent in Manchester.

 Wendy Allison, Unison regional organiser
“This trust does have a potential lifeline though: they could ask for a bailout from the Trust Development Authority.“During 2014/15 the TDA and Monitor bailed out trusts in this country to the tune of £800m I’ve asked whether the trust approached them for a bailout, but have been told the won’t be.“Pennine Acute has just had a £20m bailout, so where’s the parity of esteem between mental and physical health there?“If the trust said they were going to push for a bailout, I’d have more sympathy with them.”Craig Swann, 40, uses Benchmark.
“Benchmark has helped me in a lot of ways. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia first of all. I was in work all the time before that so I was a bit lost when it first happened.“Benchmark was something to do each week and it went from there.“Just talking about things with other people with similar – or other – problems… as men we don’t really do a lot of that.

“Over time it opened me up. When you suffer from something like that you feel a lot of things: anger, resentment. It helped me with those things.


Craig Swann

“I was gutted when I found out it was closing. The thing that has got me out every week is going to be taken away.

“I didn’t know anything about mental health until I suffered from it, but once I did I realised how huge it is. It’s not just Benchmark going, it’s a number of others being cut. Where are those 500 people going to go?

“The whole point is supposed to be about recovery.”

Bev Craig, chair of Manchester council’s health scrutiny committee

Coun Craig chaired several meetings late last year and earlier this year where trust bosses were questioned about their plans.

“Mental health services are underfunded nationally, and the trust appears to have been forced into this decision by nationally set ‘efficiency’ targets.

“However it’s extremely disappointing to see valuable support services for vulnerable people are still being cut, especially at a time when remaining mental health services are over-subscribed and under strain.

“The priority should undoubtedly be supporting the people using these services to make sure no one suffers as a result.”

Paul Reid, chair of Manchester Users Network

“We expected this. We would actually like to see them trim some of the wages of those board members.

“We feel it would have benefited a lot of the services users today.

“We definitely believe that what’s happened today will cause loss of life. We’d like the MEN to keep an eye on that.”

Manchester CCGs, which fund the mental health trust

The city’s three clinical commissioning groups have added an extra £1m into the trust’s budget for next year, the M.E.N. understands, but that still left a £1.5m shortfall.

In a statement, the CCGs said: “We’d like to reassure patients and their loved ones that our priorities are around keeping people safe and well, which is why we are committed to a long-term Mental Health Improvement Programme in Manchester.



“This is a programme which will address the long-standing issues in Manchester by reducing waiting lists for services, improving integration with physical health services and ensuring that people do not have to travel far away from Manchester when they are acutely ill.

“The trust’s proposals being considered at their board today have been designed to protect essential services – while reinvesting funds into a new wellbeing service.

“This wellbeing service will then complement the aims of the Mental Health Improvement Programme.”

Deputy police commissioner Jim Battle

The deputy police and crime commissioner and chair of the new Greater Manchester mental health strategy board demanded an urgent meeting – and urged the trust to put the cuts on hold.

“I am appalled by this decision, which has been apparently been taken without speaking to those whose lives will potentially be devastated.

“Last year, following pressure by local councillors, the trust was forced to carry out a consultation exercise.

Jim Battle

“Despite the derisory effort the trust made to consult with service users and the public, the outcome of that consultation resoundingly found that the trust should not go down this road.

“We had been led to believe that the plans were on hold until more sensible proposals could be developed – so I am astonished they have announced this decision.

“It is outrageous that both service users and key stakeholders have been left in the dark.”






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.