CONTROVERSIAL plans to axe a Westhoughton care home’s night time services have been approved by councillors.

Bolton Council cabinet members raised no objections to closing intermediate and respite care beds at Winifred Kettle Community Care Centre today.

The move is part of a wider revamp of adult social care, which will see Firwood House in Crompton Way close altogether as the council expands its provision of care in people’s homes.

A joint investment of £616,000 with NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will see home-based healthcare for recovering hospital patients provided 24 hours a day for the first time in the town.

Winifred Kettle’s 24 intermediate and respite beds will be shut by May, with patients moved to Laburnham Lodge in Breightmet and Wilfred Geere in Farnworth.

The council has maintained, since plans to revamp care provision were announced, that the changes were not “cost-cutting” measures.

Two petitions — attracting more than 2,000 signatures between them — opposing the changes to Winifred Kettle were submitted to Bolton Council during a consultation period.

But since the consultation, council chiefs have announced plans for Winifred Kettle to become Bolton’s first locality-based expert health centre, catering for 700 patients from Westhoughton every year.

The new services will be developed throughout 2014 and 2015, with social workers, nurses, pharmacists, mental health practitioners and therapists to be relocated to Winifred Kettle, as well as a community clinic including a treatment room and podiatry and physiotherapy services.

Cllr Christopher Peacock, Bolton Council's cabinet member for adults, said: “I am really pleased we are now in a position to move ahead with this and improve healthcare in Bolton.

“I have never known officers work so hard to meet with residents as they have over plans to change these services.

“This is brilliant for Westhoughton, to see new services coming into the town.”

Cllr Lynda Winrow-Baker, a Westhoughton town councillor who campaigned for Winifred Kettle’s existing services to be retained, said: “I have not had a chance to look at the consultation proposals in detail.

“It was inevitable I suppose that it would get the go-ahead but I still think it is a great shame.”

The number of council intermediate beds available will drop from 80 to 62, while all 26 of its respite beds will shut.

The council buys respite care for 400 people every year from 34 private care homes and says the availability of respite care will not be affected by the proposed changes.