Bosses at the Countess of Chester Hospital have acknowledged its services are under pressure this winter in common with facilities across the region.

The Countess issued a statement after one anonymous patient contacted The Chronicle last week saying they were currently on a pop-up ward without showers and claiming there were ‘no beds’ available in the hospital.

She said agency staff were being called in and the hospital was ‘considering turning people away’.

The patient claimed the accident and emergency department had been full to capacity the previous night, with five trolleys waiting in the corridor and eight ambulances queuing outside.

The Countess of Chester Hospital

It is no secret A&E has been busier than normal over a lengthy period.

Recent board papers from the West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which funds local NHS services, revealed ‘a deterioration in the financial position’ against NHS contracts mainly as a result of a continued increase in the cost of unplanned care at the Countess.

And CCG chief executive Alison Lee compared the situation to a car radiator that was ‘running hot’ with the danger that it might ‘start to boil over’.

Read: Cash-strapped West Cheshire NHS impacted by growing student numbers

Dr Nick Laundy, emergency department consultant and clinical lead for the service at the Countess, said: “The position here at The Countess remains very much in keeping with the rest of the region. NHS hospital services are under pressure and we are prioritising queuing ambulances and those patients most in need of clinical treatment.

The main entrance at the Countess of Chester Hospital
Countess of Chester Hospital

“We are doing everything we can to maintain morale and look after the wellbeing of staff working in our busiest areas. The front-line leadership and team work demonstrated at times like this is truly remarkable, and for this we are grateful.

“We recognise that some patients are experiencing lengthy waits, and we are asking people to bear with us. Their safety remains of paramount importance. We are keeping a close eye on patient feedback and have received some truly heartfelt thanks that has kept us all motivated during the last few weeks.”

The NHS is highlighting alternatives to A&E including GP out-of-hours, late night pharmacies and on-line information available by clicking here.