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The sign outside the walk-in clinic in Berwick. ((CBC))

Berwick residents are upset that the walk-in clinic at their local health centre has drastically cut back its hours, despite an offer to fund the clinic for a few more months.

The clinic at the Western Kings Memorial Health Centre is now only open four hours a day, down from 14 hours, and is closed on Sundays and holidays.

It's one in a series of cost saving measures to offset a multi-million dollar budget shortfall.

George Moody, chairman of the volunteer Western Kings Memorial Health Society that owns and operates the clinic, said they offered to pay for the clinic, but were turned down by the district health authority.

"They weren't going to change their minds, they weren't going to give, they weren't going to consult, and so it reminds me a bit of a dictatorship and the community can just go pound sand," said Moody, a former provincial health minister.

Residents are "upset and afraid," he said.

Janet Knox, CEO of the Annapolis Valley Health District, said the decision to curtail the clinic's hours was one of 45 initiatives to save about $4 million.

Two weeks ago, the society offered to temporarily fund the clinic.

"They said it would be the cost of a nurse and it was about $10,000. So, we said,'Whatever the cost is, our society will cover the cost,'" Moody said.

But the offer came too late.

"It was very generous of them, but it takes a lot of time in a unionized environment to make some of these changes," Knox said.

But Moody doesn't buy that explanation.

"It's just a cop out.  I think that's just a cop out, I don't think it's the real reason," he said.

The new hours are a major adjustment for people living in Berwick; at least five people were turned away at the beginning of the day Tuesday.

Now if they need medical attention on a weekday they have to travel at least 20 kilometres away to the nearest hospital in Kentville.

"We moved here from Toronto strictly for one reason, that the hospital was such a wonderful place, and it's gone down to this," one elderly woman said.

Kings West Liberal MLA Leo Glavine plans to present a petition to the legislature later this month.