A PUBLIC petition to reverse cuts to the operating hours of Victoria Infirmary Northwich’s minor injuries unit now has close to 5,000 signatures.

Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the site, initially cut the unit’s opening hours on March 20 to help support its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But last month, the Guardian revealed the trusts’ decision to continue to close the unit at evenings and weekends until April 2021.

In a further statement, the trust said that operating hours would be kept 'under constant review', with a view to 'enhancing' services when it is safe to do so.

The move has been met with condemnation from members of the public, local councillors and Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury, with all stating how vital the service is in the area and how the decision should be reversed.

Winnington resident Lee Siddall, of the Winnington and Castle Residents Voice group, started the online petition allowing residents to collectively show their opposition to the cuts.

And at the time of writing today, Thursday, this petition has been signed by 4,936 people.

Cuts to the minor injuries unit’s operating hours was also discussed at this month’s Northwich Town Council meeting, with councillors speaking of the vital need for the service and how pressure must be maintained to force a full reversal of the decision.

Northwich Guardian:

Cllr Sam Naylor said: “We know we are in the midst of a national pandemic and we appreciate it can be difficult, but we are all mindful of the fact that we do not want this to be a slippery slope of something becoming permanent.

“We have to keep our foot on the pedal and make sure that normal VIN services are returned to what they should be as soon as possible.”

Cllr Derek Bowden, who has been a recipient of care at the infirmary over recent weeks, praised the quality of care available by staff and spoke of how valuable the service is in the town.

He said: “I have had to spend a lot of time in VIN over recent weeks and I have realised just how good and necessary it is.

“It is a massive asset, staff are offering a service which is above and beyond, and I would love to express my appreciation for the quality of personal care and medical services on offer.”

And town mayor Kevin Rimmer added: “It goes without saying that VIN a massive asset for us as a community.

“We cannot afford to lose it, no matter what has to be done to save it.”

If you would like to sign the petition, visit change.org/p/james-sumner-the-chief-executive-at-mid-cheshire-hospital-protect-northwich-victoria-infirmary