Misery and Despair For Many Residents; presently living with A Mental Health Illness Within the City of Manchester

Decisions that have no mandate or support from professional health workers or those who represent them including Unison’s Manchester Community and Mental Health Branch and Trade Unionist from all parts of the region.

Manchester Town Hall

Manchester Town Hall (photo)


By: Paul Reed.

Anyone who has anything to do with the care of people who suffer from a mental health illness, including ‘Dual Diagnosis Service’ should aim to read the following : Manchester City Council Mental Health Services consultation report,  as reported below and at the following link: Here .

It is becoming increasingly apparent to all concerned, that a large number of Manchester people are experiencing real hardship and distress as a direct result of the cuts that Manchester councillors voted in. Cuts which are now being implemented by the Manchester City Council’s decision to force austerity upon some of the most vulnerable people who live and suffer mental health in Manchester.

This has led to misery and despair for many residents; presently living with a mental health illness within the City of Manchester.

Manchester User’s Network, the leading Manchester mental health patients organisation, is extremely concerned at the levels of misery being caused and lack of sympathy presently expressed by a majority of our elected councillors, as shown in their willingness to implement such policies that bring misery upon those who are suffering severe and enduring mental illness .


Decisions that have no mandate or support from professional health workers or those who represent them including Unison’s Manchester Community and Mental Health Branch and Trade Unionist from all parts of the region. Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust, were recently contacted by a Unison representative, who accused the Manchester employer of intending to make service changes and to reorganise dual diagnosis services at MMHSCT, that demonstrated their failure to follow agreed consultation process on ‘Dual Diagnosis Service’.

The disturbing report below, which has the backing of Head of Strategic Commissioning – Hazel Summers, who has told a recent Manchester City Council Health and Joint Scrutiny Committee meeting, that government considered that employment and work related support was the best health policy for those suffering from mental health issues. A statement that has little support outside of political circles and those tasked with funding mental health services who ‘would say that’. Such fleeting statements, viewed amongst many service users, as being simplistic, crass and very uncaring.

Alf MorrisThe Late Lord Alf Morris of Manchester worked tirelessly for the disabled and military veterans suffering from Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


In the past Manchester, sufferers of mental health have had the direct support of Manchester MP’s. Indeed Manchester Trade Union Council, is to honour Alf Morris the world’s first appointed: Disabled Government Minister, with a dedicated stained glass window, dedicated to the late Lord Alf of Manchester’s memory, his work as a leading Trade Unionist, for his dedicated work for the disabled and the downtrodden. The window will honour his memory and considered by many to be one of the highest tributes the Trade Union movement, could give a fellow trade unionist. It will take pride of place in the home of the Trade Unionist movement at the world famous home of Trade Unionism, based at the Mechanic Institute building on Princess Street, Manchester. Lord Alfred was a great supporter of MUN he often gave small but often donations to support the Manchester service user’s organisation. Other Manchester MP’s have also supported MUN.

There are few in the City Council who actually listens to mental health, health workers or service users. In 2007 Nurse Karen Reissmann, a respected Manchester mental health nurse blew the whistle on Manchester mental health cuts to services, she received no support from Manchester City Councillors. Indeed, it took Nick Clegg MP, in the week of running for the leadership of the Lib/Dems while visiting Manchester; to leave the Town Hall to give his personally support for the Manchester nurse and her courageous stand.

None of the Manchester Councillor wanted to be seen supporting Nurse Karen Reissmann, who had been sacked for giving an interview that predicted the privatisation of health services. She was successfully reinstated and from all events has been proven correct in her statement on the future of Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust and moves towards the private sector services.

nick-and-karen-reissmann-2-2Manchester mental Health nurse Karen Reissmann meets with Nick Clegg MP 


What followed was the closure of a brand new hospital unit called Edale Unit based at the Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI), despite the cost of nearly £1.9m a year still being paid annually to the builder of the unit and payments to go on being paid to honour the contract under PFI for the next thirty years.

Manchester City Council did not listen to the representation made by  Link healthwatch, which recommended that the decision to the close Edale Unit be referred to the then health secretary.  Edale Unit was closed by Manchester, without the intervention of the government. Central Manchester lost a badly needed mental health hospital unit, service users and staff were the biggest losers .

Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust never made foundation status, and as a result must close, as hospitals without foundation status can not operate within the present open market which is methodically destroying our NHS.

Budget 2015/17: Mental health services

Consultation results

The options

We proposed reducing reducing our spending of £15.746m on the Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust (MMHSCT), and various types of housing related support by £3.518m over the next two years.

Because the overall aim is to prevent more people needing these services in future we proposed, where possible, to move and re-target funding away from high-cost services for a small number of people with high level mental health needs – which can include supported accommodation, residential and nursing care homes, assessment, casework and reviews.

Where possible we would move funding to services that promote wellbeing for all Manchester residents. Wellbeing Services can help people with lots of different issues such as financial assistance, physical activity and lifestyle choices as well as emotional needs.

Whilst maintaining the delivery of care management and assessment to meet our legal duty under the Mental Health Act 1983 (amended 2007), we proposed stopping or reducing funding for these mental health service areas:

  • Recovery and Connect Service – stop funding this service which provides a citywide enablement service for people with severe and enduring mental health needs, providing one-to-one and group support with the focus on goal setting, social activity and community engagement. The service has not had the use or success expected. It costs £913,000 a year
  • Supported accommodation – redesign into a housing related support service that speeds up the move towards independent living
  • Residential care homes – safely and sustainably shift the balance of provision away from residential and nursing care to alternative types of support, including for example Shared Lives (a form of foster care for adults).

What people said:-

Responses highlighted the need for a service that supports people though a transition phase back into the community. There was emphasis on the impact of social isolation on individuals as well as the potential impact of the proposal on discharge from hospital.

There was concern about the potential loss of support services for those with mental health needs and for carers, and the impact on individuals and the wider mental health system in Manchester, as well as the need to balance services between high need, high cost intervention, and preventative services.

  • 56% disagreed with reducing the amount spent on supporting people with high level mental health needs and to help more people with lower level mental health needs
  • 72% felt that the funding balance should be split equally across high needs support and early intervention
  • 89% thought it very important to support people with mental health and other health related needs to achieve their personal goals and aspirations in education, volunteering and employment
  • 51% disagreed with the proposal option to move funding to community based support and away from specialist support.

Further consultation on changes to the budget proposals included an additional investment of £3.5m for Adult Social Care with £500,000 to go to mental health services to help people with mental health needs move to more appropriate accommodation with the support they need. 47% of respondents agreed we should prioritise investment in the areas and themes identified, including the option to invest in mental health services.


We accept a reduction of £1.9m to the mental health budget in 2015/16. We agree the investment of £500,000 in mental health to develop a new service helping those with mental health needs who are in residential care and supported accommodation to move into more independent accommodation and to get on a path to work or supported employment.

Current service users within the Recovery and Connect and Community Support services are being supported until the new service is in place.

MUN, would like to view your comments, please leave below. You do not have to leave your name but if you wish to please feel free. You can also send your views to:- manchesterusersnetwork@hotmail.co.uk , we will keep your comments private, but it will help us to get better support for yours or your loved ones mental health services.

NHS Nurse Karen Reissmann Link to her story in the Guardian

Republished the interview that got the respected Manchester nurse the sack:-

Below is the interview that in 2007 got Manchester Mental Health Nurse the sack. MUN have republish the interview so that our readers can review what the Manchester nurse actually said and what now is happening to Manchester mental health services. You judge for yourself. Please leave your comments, if you agree that most of what Nurse Karen Reissmann said back then in 2007 has now unfortunately come true, let us know via our comments section. We welcome your feedback. Please feel free to leave your comments below: Remember comment helps us fight against cuts to Manchester mental health services. Together we want Manchester to work at having the best services in the country: ‘MANCHESTER DESERVES BETTER’

*While ministers are promoting social enterprise as a solution to problems in the NHS, campaigners against health service privatisation are sceptical. Karen Reissman is a leading member of anti-privatisation campaigns in Manchester. Sarah Irving heard her concerns about social enterprises in mental health provision…

Karen Reissman is an experienced community psychiatric nurse working in North Manchester, and although she welcomes some of the changes in the NHS over the last decade, she is deeply unhappy about others.
“I’ve had 5 employers in the last 13 years,” she says. “Each time the new headed notepaper and name badges costs thousands. Does it improve anything? No.”

She is concerned about the privatisation of NHS services, including by transfer to the voluntary sector and social enterprise, because of the effects she sees for both staff and patients.

She worries that voluntary sector and social enterprise organisations can win tenders through cutting costs, and this can mean lower standards of care and poorer conditions for workers on the mental health front line: “One of Manchester’s current assertive outreach teams is voluntary sector. One of the main things this has meant is that experienced NHS staff have been replaced with inexperienced staff,” she explains.

“This is partly because the voluntary sector organisation pays less, and because staff moving to it lose their NHS or local authority pensions.

“Experienced staff are likely to be older and therefore more concerned about their pensions, so they are very unlikely to want to move to new social enterprise sector organisations. This means that some of the most severely mentally ill people in the area are being cared for by people who themselves are newly qualified or in some cases trained in-house.”

Another concern is that the transfer of mental health services can also mean a shift in the culture and priorities of organisations. While Karen acknowledges that workers in social enterprise organisations are genuinely committed to their patients’ care, she questions whether the organisations themselves can really meet the demands of the sector: “One of the other areas being shifted to private sector organisations are community living projects, which run schemes such as arts projects and occupational activities,” she describes.

“A lot of these have been or are facing being turned into social enterprise organisations. My concern would be that this changes them from primarily being a treatment and therapy service to an entity which has to break even.

“Staff then spend their time looking for funding and subsidies, or trying to cut costs, rather than delivering the care they want to and which patients need. It downgrades the situation for both staff and
patients and moves the organisation from being mainly a service to being a commercial organisation which has to keep its eyes on the bottom line.

“There is one award-winning national project which uses art for people with mental health issues, some of whom have been very damaged by their illness, and helps them express themselves and get some fulfilment from life. Some of the artwork produced might be sold, but that happens in individual cases if it’s appropriate and it helps the patient. It faces becoming a social enterprise, and then selling work or being part of projects that bring in funding will become much more of a motivation.”

According to Karen, privatisation of the NHS in Manchester is proceeding quickly, fragmenting teams and cutting resources, including reducing the number of mental health beds in the region and making it harder for community nurses like her to spend adequate time with their patients.

“There are several bits of privatisation going on in the Manchester area at the moment,” she says. “Four of the Community Mental Health Teams are up for private tender at the moment, and it is likely that some of these will go to joint NHS/voluntary sector projects.”

Mental health workers in Manchester are currently balloting for strike action against privatisation and cuts in community mental health teams. “The chaos is frustrating, but it also motivates people to do something if we can get them organised,” argues Karen. “As bad as it is, it would have been worse if we hadn’t acted.

“Thatcher tried to tell people that private was good, public bad. She convinced some, but when they saw the privatised rail services they came to their senses.”


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@TUCManchester @unisontweets @MUNReporter& @munreporterscoo

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