VULNERABLE mental health patients may be put at risk as plans to axe up to 90 NHS staff were leaked.
The Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust is believed to have told staff members belonging to Assertive Outreach Teams that they face being made redundant in two months time, according to sources.
There are four teams across Cheshire said to be cut from the service, with one operating across Chester and Ellesmere Port.
Staff are worried that apart from losing their jobs and source of income, high-risk patients suffering from conditions such as schizophrenia will lose vital support.
A source told the Chronicle: “It’s not official but we know it is coming. Once a job in the NHS was a job for life but not anymore. People are going to be made redundant.
“The Assertive Outreach Teams care for people with severe and mental health illnesses to keep them in the community.
“The patients are referred to the Assertive Outreach Team from the community mental health teams because they can’t manage them.
“Obviously staff are going to be worried because they have mortgages to pay, but we are also worried about the patients.
“We specialise in caring for very vulnerable people and keep them safe in their own home. Who is going to look after them in the future?”
Assertive Outreach Teams in Wirral, Crewe and Macclesfield are also said to be facing the axe in September.
Staff work with patients in their own environment, providing up to five-days-a-week care and assistance with daily tasks including finances, housing, medication, food and shopping.
Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust chief executive Peter Cubbon said: “Everyone is aware of the current financial climate and the public sector is not exempt from that.
“The Trust is at the very early stages of considering ways in which it can continue to deliver high quality services in a more efficient way. Assertive outreach is just one area we are exploring, as are other mental health trusts nationally.
“It’s far too early for any consideration to have been given to possible impacts on staff jobs, and this would be worked through in detailed consultation with Trust employees and their representatives should the need arise.
“NHS Trusts across the country are undertaking similar exercises, but of course patient care is always our highest priority.
“Our track record of productive partnership working means we look to our staff, service users and carers, and the public, to help us to achieve more efficient ways of working that mean we can meet this challenge.”