ENOUGH beds must be made available for mental health patients before three wards at the Royal Bolton Hospital are closed, according to councillors.
Representatives from Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Trust appeared in front of Bolton’s health scrutiny committee to discuss plans to remove 50 beds in October.
Patients will be looked after in their own homes — with a 24/7 on call service and three visits by clinicians a day — or they will be taken to Woodlands Hospital in Little Hulton.
The changes will save £2.1 million, but health chiefs have committed to invest £1.15 million into community services — including £307,000 in the home-based treatment team.
Another £5.86 million will be spent rebuilding the Woodlands site. Gill Green, director of nursing and operations for the trust, added: “Even by reducing these 50 beds, Royal Bolton Hospital will still have the national average of mental health hospital beds for adults and older people.
“This will allow us to use some of these resources to provide care that will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the most appropriate setting, which for many people will be at home or in the community rather than in hospital.”
Cllr Andy Morgan said: “I support the aspiration for more integrated community bed services, provided the 24 hours provision is in place.
“I’d also like to know that all the community bed services will be up and running before services are decommissioned.”
Up to 80 staff will be affected by the changes, but health bosses said “did not expect a need for compulsory redundancies”.
Under the review Oak Ward, an adult acute mental health ward, and Linden Ward, for older people with mental health ward would close in October 2014.
A second older people’s section, Hazelwood Ward, would close in either 2014 or 2015.
Cllr Martin Donaghey expressed concern about the impact on clinical staff.
He said: “This scrutiny committee would be deeply concerned about any compulsory redundancies — that is the last thing that we would want to hear.”
A consultation on the proposals will run until March. For information go to gmw.nhs.uk