CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop the closure of one of the town’s mental health wards should stop “playing politics” with the NHS, according to a Bolton councillor.

Members of Unison and the Bolton West Constituency Labour Party (CLP) led a petition-signing event in Victoria Square to protest against Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Trust’s (GMW) plans to shift services into patients’ homes.

Cllr Andy Morgan, who sits on Bolton Council’s health scrutiny committee, has hit back at campaigners, arguing that the redesign of services must go ahead if the NHS is to survive.

The trust, which covers Bolton, Salford and Trafford, is proposing to make £2.3 million a year savings by closing hospital wards.

If the proposals go ahead, patients will be looked after in their homes — with a 24/7 on-call service and three visits a day by clinicians, or they will be taken to Woodlands Hospital in Little Hulton.

Cllr Morgan said: “We should not be politicising this important issue.

“This is a clinically-led review and the results from the focus groups show that patients and their families want care in their own homes.

“This is about delivering the appropriate care in the most appropriate setting. There will still be beds available for patients with acute admissions and that’s what we should focus on.

“What is best for patients should not be used to fight a political battle.”

Calls were made to halt the consultation when health chiefs in Trafford backed out of the proposals due to local opposition.

Yet board members of Bolton NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) insisted on Friday they would still plough on with the proposals.

Protestors have argued that people in Bolton are not aware of the plans.