John Knight's latest Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express.

27 April 2018

Doesn’t it feel like Macclesfield’s health service is under siege?

Mental health services in Macclesfield are threatened with closure, with vulnerable patients and their families and friends facing the prospect of eighty-mile round trips to Chester, at the opposite end of the county, with no direct public transport links. This part of the NHS is run by the “Cheshire and Wirral Partnership”, who are currently running a “consultation” on the future of mental health services in Eastern Cheshire, South Cheshire and Vale Royal. Here in Macc, we are being being asked to choose between losing residential care for dementia patients or for adults with acute mental health issues. Services in Chester seem to be safe though - oh of course, that’s where CWP is based.

Now, Macclesfield Hospital itself is under attack, with a damning report by the Care Quality Commission. Having been starved of funds like the rest of the NHS and losing many of its administrative staff in the name of “cutting red tape”, our hospital is now accused of being badly-run, with skill shortages in crucial areas (although East Cheshire NHS Trust is rated “good” overall).

A common thread running through all this is the way that our NHS has been carved up into isolated fragments. A mishmash of Trusts, Partnerships and Commissioning Groups, none of them accountable to the public they are there to serve. Among all this chaotic mess, private health corporations are allowed and encouraged to stealthily take over large chunks of our health service to run as businesses, siphoning NHS money off into directors’ fees and shareholders’ dividends.

Greens say: defend the NHS as a public service providing healthcare free at the point of delivery; end commercialisation of health and restore public control and oversight to bodies elected by and accountable to local communities.