THE closure of a centre for mental health patients in Cheadle has been slammed as 'another nail in the coffin' for the town.
The Brandon Centre, at Cheadle Hospital, was shut down for the final time last week.
Services are now being switched to other venues in the town in a move that will save health providers £50,000.
But the decision was this week described as ‘bureaucrats putting pennies before the well-being of patients’.
The doors of the Brandon Centre were slammed shut last week – almost 12 months after the North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust first decided to close the facility.
The Trust confirmed staff were no longer working from the site and will now deliver group-based therapies at Cheadle Conservative Club or the Rethink charity premises in Bank Street.
However, the move has come as a surprise to North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Clinical Commissioning Groups.
The Centre has been repeatedly identified as a service townsfolk wished to keep within the hospital building during public consultation events.
The closure will mean 222 patients will now receive treatment on a ‘needs-led’ basis – either in their homes or at an agreed venue.
Trust staff will work more closely with volunteers ‘to further strengthen a recovery-based approach to care delivery and evidence-based practice’.
Ron Locker, spokesman for Cheadle Hospital Action Group, said: “The closure of the Brandon Centre is another blow to the town and certainly to the people who use it.
“We’re in free-fall – they are closing everything and Cheadle seems to be getting the brunt of all those closures.”
Health campaigner Ian Syme said changes to services would be a concern to local people, given the uncertainty surrounding the future of Cheadle Hospital.
He said: “If services for mental health users are to change it must be to improve those services for what is a vulnerable group of individuals.
“Improving access to services means locating them so they’re geographically accessible which of course means they need to continue being delivered in Cheadle.”
A spokesman for the Combined Healthcare Trust said: “As part of our continued commitment to a more community and recovery-focused model, we are working within communities to deliver care in an integrated way with our partners.
“We have explored the potential to co-locate our staff as part of our overall strategy for integrated neighbourhood working.
“We are working in even closer partnership with Rethink – a local mental health voluntary sector organisation that will enable us to continue to provide services to the local community in Cheadle and jointly support people on their recovery journey.
“We have communicated with every service user, carers and GPs to ensure any changes do not have any negative impact on their care. Every service user will continue to receive the same service.
“As a result of this development, our staff are no longer based at the Brandon Centre.
“Our ability to co-locate teams will mean we can provide better access to a wider range of services and provide the very best care to service users and carers and this will continue to be our highest priority.”
However, Save Our Beds campaigner Julie Bull slammed the move.
She said: “I’ve received complaints from patients, their carers and relatives worried about the services moving out of town.
“Some patients have already been made to travel to Cheddleton, which is totally unacceptable.
“This is another key part of Cheadle Hospital being made redundant by bureaucrats putting pennies before the wellbeing of patients.
“The future of town health services is in dire straits if the Brandon Centre cannot be accommodated within a town the size of Cheadle.
“This is yet another nail in the coffin for town services but I am not surprised.”
A spokesman for the CCGs said: “The CCGs were not aware of the Trust’s decision to co-locate staff with partners as part of their strategy to integrate services.
“We will continue to ensure future provision of mental health services features as part of the work we are doing with local people to develop the future of local health services in Cheadle.”
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