HEALTH scrutiny chiefs walked out of a public meeting after being heckled by a group of furious carers.

A row erupted between councillors and members of the public over controversial proposals to close a mental health ward in Bolton.

Tonight's health scrutiny committee meeting took a chaotic turn when Cllr Andy Morgan claimed the consultation — which could see up to 50 mental health beds close at the Royal Bolton Hospital — had widespread support from carers and patients.

Cllr Morgan said: “This is a clinically-led — not politically-led — review and there are a lot of carers and patients in support of these proposals.”

Members of the public then loudly interrupted a question from Cllr Liam Irving to demand to know from Cllr Morgan who “these carers in support” were.

Cllr Irving was asking chair Noel Spencer what would happen if the committee failed to come to a decision on the proposals when Tom Hanley, a carer, said: “I’m addressing Cllr Morgan.

"Carers groups are not in favour of this. Not one carer. Which carers have you spoken to because I’m yet to meet someone in favour of these proposals?”

The row came to a head when Cllr Irving shouted back: “I’m speaking here, you shut up.”

As a security guard intercepted Cllr Irving and Mr Hanley, chair Cllr Spencer abruptly adjourned the meeting for 10 minutes — leading all members out of the town hall committee room.

When business resumed, Cllr Spencer reminded members of the public they were not allowed to question members.

Cllr Spencer said: “I want to make it clear that we continue in a relatively peaceful, fraternal and friendly manner.”

The proposals put forward by Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMW) will see the mental health ward replaced with a new 24-hour service — or they will be taken to Woodlands Hospital in Little Hulton.

CCGs in Bolton, Salford and Trafford were in discussions with GMW to move services into the community.

Yet Trafford CCG backed out because of strong opposition from local councillors.

The consultation will continue in Bolton.