PATIENTS from Cheshire West are being reassured they will not be worse off if plans to close a mental health inpatients unit in Macclesfield go ahead.

NHS Vale Royal, South Cheshire and Eastern Cheshire clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are set to consider the business case for closing the Millbrook Unit at a meeting next month.

At a meeting on Thursday, Dr Fiona McGregor-Smith, NHS Vale Royal governing body member and a GP at Danebridge, in Northwich, asked how it could affect patients further away from Macclesfield.

“I think this is a lot about people from the east and making sure that they don’t have to travel more than is absolutely necessary,” she said.

“Will it impact on the people in the west the other way around?”

In a public consultation held earlier this year, a majority of respondents supported closing the unit to fund improvements in community care and crisis support.

The most popular option in the consultation was to move adult mental health inpatients provision to Bowmere, in Chester, while inpatients provision for elderly patients would be provided at Lime Walk House, in Macclesfield.

Dr McGregor-Smith added: “What I was wondering was, if the more elderly or seriously mentally ill from west Cheshire would suddenly find themselves over in Macclesfield?”

Tracey Cole, director of commissioning at NHS Vale Royal and South Cheshire CCGs, suggested that question would be answered in the business case presented next month.

She said: “We are talking about 7,000 service users – 350 of whom were inpatients in Macclesfield, but not all of them lived in Macclesfield.

“There’s an assumption that everybody that was admitted in the past annum [was from Macclesfield], but actually when you look at it, we’re not necessarily moving everything.”

Clare Watson, chief operating officer at NHS Vale Royal and South Cheshire CCGs, added: “If the recommendation is supported, there will be more beds opened in Bowmere, so there won’t be a detrimental impact on Cheshire West and Chester patients.

“But I think the key thing is – this is about an improved offer in the community. We are trying to reduce the number of people who need to go into an inpatient facility with an improved, all-new crisis offer, and all of the other redesigned services in the community.

“Our £1.4 million investment from our two CCGs will support and enhance the offer.”