More than 1,200 people have now signed a petition calling for bed cuts at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary to be reversed.

It comes as city councillors this week backed a motion demanding more money from the Government for the hospital, so it can reopen the 16-bed Aspen ward.

The petition was launched by members of the Carlisle Labour Party due to concerns about the closure of the gynaecological ward.

It is part of a wider plan to close up to 100 beds at the Carlisle and Whitehaven hospitals by 2020/21.

Almost 900 signatures have been collected online, while over 300 people signed paper copies when members took to the city centre last weekend.

Ruth Alcroft, Denton Holme councillor and Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary candidate, then put forward the motion Carlisle City Council’s meeting on Tuesday night.

It said: “The closure of these beds... follows a winter where NHS England instructed hospitals across the country to cancel routine operations, leaving thousands of patients in pain or discomfort.

“This council calls upon John Stevenson MP and north Cumbria MPs to lobby the Government to ensure the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has the funding it needs to reopen Aspen ward and reverse the decision to close up to 100 beds.”

The motion was carried, though Conservative members of the council abstained from the vote.

Afterwards Mrs Alcroft said: “There were lots of comments about this being a management decision. We have no objection to changes that bring better services and, indeed, make best use of resources.

“However, this comes only two years after the British Red Cross declared a humanitarian crisis in our hospitals and in the year routine operations were cancelled across the country.

“A nurse this week told me of the pressures they were facing on a daily basis.

“The Tory Government has promised extra funding by 2023/4 so there is a recognition that we need more money. Let us have it now.”

Carlisle MP Mr Stevenson has previously urged hospital chiefs to “tread carefully” when reducing bed numbers at the infirmary.

He said it was vital they ensured they had enough to deal with patients over the busy winter period, and retain confidence in the hospital.

The bed cuts are part of the controversial Healthcare for the Future masterplan, drawn up by the Government’s Success Regime and approved by local NHS leaders.

They say it is not just about cutting costs, but improving care by looking after more patients in their own homes.

North Cumbria’s health leaders say this is now working, with many now avoiding admissions or getting out of hospital quicker. As a result fewer beds are needed.