Mental Health Protesters Take To The Streets

Nurses caused a stir in Manchester when 100 health workers drove through city centre streets protesting against mental health care changes which they say will mean cuts. The vehicles were driven by occupational therapists, support workers, therapists and nurses working for Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust.

They are fighting plans to cut 33 community nurses and six occupational therapists from the trust, while increasing the number of social workers.

Unions say the trust is already understaffed after bosses axed 37 clinical posts in March. Community nurse and Unison representative Karen Reissmann said: “The proposals are being presented as an improvement, but we would have twice as many patients each and that means that we would have half the time to provide care.

“These cuts are being announced at a time when there’s more money going into the NHS than ever before. The government can well afford to divert a few million into mental health care.”

The procession left the Showcase Cinema car park, in Hyde Road, at noon before travelling through town to the trust’s headquarters in Chorlton.

Chris O’Gorman, head of Manchester’s Mental Health Joint Commissioning Team, said: “We’re changing the structure of community and emergency services, so that’s going to mean a change in the professionals needed to deliver those services. As services move towards integrated health and social care, we’re going to gradually need less nurses and more social workers – even though overall there will be more staff working in mental health, not fewer.

“For some it’s going to mean changing roles, changing their place of work and changing who they work with. But to go from there to saying these changes are cuts is a gross misrepresentation.”