Protest over threat to shut mental health ward at Royal Bolton Hospital
HEALTH campaigners and trade unions are set to voice their anger at the proposed closure of an adult mental health ward at the Royal Bolton Hospital.
The protest has been organised after Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust announced it could close the ward, which is housed at the hospital in Farnworth — as well as shutting another ward in Salford.
There are also potential plans to move elderly care wards to the Woodlands hospital in Little Hulton.
The demonstration will take place today at the Minerva Road entrance to the hospital from noon to 12.30pm.
Martin McMulkin, Secretary of Bolton TUC, said: “This comes as a real concern, especially at it follows the announcement by Conservative health minister, Jeremy Hunt, that the NHS cannot afford the one per cent pay rise that chancellor George Osborne had promised health workers.
“The message at the protest will be very clear — don't impoverish our NHS staff and don’t cut our health services.”
But a spokesman for Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust said the proposed changes were not cuts and were instead a realignment of services.
In a statement Gill Green, director of nursing and operations for Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The reasons behind this proposal are to see how we can deliver mental health services in the best way possible across Bolton, Salford and Trafford.
“We want to help people by investing in community-based services so that people only go into hospital when absolutely necessary and for as short a time as possible. Being admitted to hospital can be a frightening and confusing experience for anyone with a mental health problem.
“Being in the position to offer care in a familiar environment is what we aim to do.”
But Karen Reissmann, a Unison steward and mental health campaigner, said people “will feel very concerned” about the potential closures.
She added: “Mental health workers are seeing attacks on frontline services as well as attacks on their pay and this protest will link both those issues.”
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