Staff at at the Countess of Chester Hospital are “smiling from ear to ear” following the completion of a £13m extension.

Located at the rear, the new building provides overnight facilities for relatives, as well as a new endoscopy unit at ground level and a critical care unit on the first floor.

Sections of the building have been operational since late March, following hand-over by the main contractor after an 18-month build. The layout was based on the professional experience of end-users, with more than 200 staff providing input into the final design.

Jamie Barnes, HSDU/Endoscopy team leader, said: “Moving to the new purpose built endoscopy decontamination suite marks a very exciting time for HSDU and the Countess of Chester. The new decontamination suite allows us to offer a state of the art service which will ensure a quicker, more efficient and most of all deliver the safest possible patient experience.”

Lead nurse and manager Mel Kynaston said: “The new unit offers so many benefits to our patients and relatives, it has a purpose built 100% side room facility, this will allow the critical care team to overcome a number of challenges with infection prevention and control, maintaining privacy and dignity as well as preventing sleep deprivation and the associated effects this has on prolonging recovery following critical illness.

“There is also a relatives’ suite which has been provided by the Countess staff and the people of Chester through local fundraising. This is a unique development within our network for adult critical care services and means we are now able to provide a place for relatives to rest whilst experiencing one of the most traumatic events of their life.”

She said the new unit had boosted morale and staff were “still smiling from ear to ear”.