On Saturday 29th March there will be a march and rally from Eccles to Meadowbrook Hospital to protest against mental health cuts.
· Save Mental Health Services in Salford are organising the event on behalf of mental health campaigners in Bolton, Salford and Trafford, where the local NHS trust, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust, is planning to reduce the number of beds by 20% over the next two years. The demo is timed to coincide with the end of their consultation on 30th March. Eccles was chosen as the location because it is equidistant from the three towns.
· The UK has lost 1700 mental health beds over the last three years; a further reduction locally will make it more likely that admissions will have to be made to units a considerable distance away, and often to private hospitals. This makes impossible for friends and family to visit, delaying the patient’s recovery. It also costs the NHS, as private beds can cost up to £4000 a week. Manchester Mental Health Trust which has already made similar reductions in capacity recently had 38 patients being treated outside of area.
· The trust claim that by closing wards they can extend cover to support care in the community but this will not be appropriate in many cases and staffing calculations suggest home visits will be of extremely short duration.
· Since the demonstration was called mental health community care workers employed by Salford City Council have been ear-marked for redundancy as part of a wave of budget cuts. Service users thus face a double whammy – there will be less support to prevent hospital admissions and if an admission is necessary there will be fewer hospital beds. Redundancy notices have not yet been issued but if they are employees will be ballotted for industrial action.
· There will be a rally at Eccles Cross at 12.30 pm, with speakers from all three areas, including service users, carers, trade unionists and health campaigners. The march will move off at 1.00 pm and proceed through the pedestrian precinct, along Wellington Road, Gilda Brook Road, and along Eccles Old Road, past Salford Royal Infirmary, and down Stott Lane to a rally at Meadowbrook at approx. 2.15 pm.
· Organisations supporting the march include:
o UNISON Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust (Karen Reissman 07972 120451)
o Salford against Cuts (Kevin Corran 07971 495597)
o Save Mental Health Services in Salford (Jill Royle 07914 893653)
o United Service Users Committee (Steve Cullen 07941 400870)
o Greater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public (Hugh Caffrey 07769 611320)