PROPOSALS to redesign adult and older people's mental health services across Cheshire and Wirral are the subject of a new consultation exercise.

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Trust has launched the 12-week feedback campaign on its plans for meeting nationally-required savings of 2.5% - equivalent to £2.1m.

The trust's preferred option to save this money is to close unused beds and rationalise wards for adults and older people.

This equates to one ward from each of the four inpatient units and is effectively one in five beds across the trust area.

The alternative solution would be to reduce community services, which have proved effective in keeping patients out of hospital and providing care at home.

Peter Cubbon, trust chief executive, said: 'We are making these proposals from a position of success, having developed excellent local services that provide help to people where they live.

'We have carefully considered how best to find the money required for the efficiency savings. Closing unneeded empty beds can deliver the rest of the savings this year.

'This means no cash has to be released from community services, which would be in keeping with national policy and our own direction in providing services for the people of Cheshire and Wirral.'

The trust says there is also a shortage of specialist beds in Cheshire and Wirral, which means some people are having to travel outside the area for inpatient treat-ment.

The trust says it can only provide the services it is paid to provide and, at the moment, it is not paid to provide these specialist services.

As part of the consultation, the trust is seeking views about whether people would support it exploring with partner organ-isations the possibility of using freed-up inpatient beds to develop a wider range of local specialist services.

Copies of the trust's consultation document are available from its website: