DOCTORS are hopeful that patients will benefit from better public transport links if healthcare services are provided in Northwich town centre.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is currently consulting on its Weaver Square masterplan – which could include a public services hub, featuring NHS facilities.

The masterplan was presented to the governing body of NHS Vale Royal clinical commissioning group (CCG), which plans and buys healthcare in Northwich and Winsford, at a meeting on Thursday.

Dr Fiona McGregor-Smith, a GP at Kingsmead Medical Centre, told governing body members that the hub should be easier for patients to access than the existing Victoria Infirmary, in Winnington Hill.

“I think quite a lot of the community-type services that have previously been semi-secondary care could be done there because people could get there more easily than up the hill to the infirmary,” she said.

“But I appreciate how cautious we have to be about making sure that we don’t lose a lovely building that some people have a great affinity to.

“I do think that there is a big opportunity to get services that anybody from any practice could use at any time – some of the things like public health, sexual health, services that would be local – I think there’s a big opportunity for that.”

Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which owns and runs Victoria Infirmary, confirmed last month that it is looking at the possibility of moving services to Weaver Square in future as the current hospital is suffering with subsidence.

Dr Jonathan Griffiths, chairman of Vale Royal CCG and a GP at Swanlow Medical Centre, agreed that ‘public transport is key’ for future healthcare sites.

He said: “I work as a GP in Winsford, I have patients who would perhaps prefer to go to the infirmary in Northwich than go to Leighton in Crewe as a place to go for their blood tests or whatever it might be.

“And yet they will say ‘actually I’m going to go to Crewe because I don’t want to walk up the hill from the bus stop’, and they can get a bus straight into the grounds of Leighton Hospital, so that’s what they will do.

“So it’s about making sure that we get our group transport coordinated and lined up with our infrastructure and our estates.”

Richard Green, senior property manager at Cheshire West and Chester Council, thanked the board for all of its comments on the masterplan.

He said: “This is exactly what it’s about – it’s not about being prescriptive. We have to have some semblance of shape to what it is we are thinking about.

“This is an opportunity and we are here not to be prescriptive but to present the opportunity and it’s for the likes of yourselves, as professionals and residents, to respond as you feel fit.”

To take part in the Weaver Square consultation, visit