THE chief executive of the Countess of Chester Hospital said that a decision to lose 53 beds is in response to a cash squeeze.
But Peter Herring said patient care would not be affected by the closure of a surgical ward and cardiology ward from September.
He was responding to concerns by an anonymous nurse who e-mailed The Chronicle claiming the hospital was often full and needed more beds not less.
In a statement Mr Herring said: 'The financial position of the Trust has been publicised on a number of occasions and we have made it clear we must reduce the cost of running the hospital to match the income provided.
'We are trying to achieve this by improving the efficiency of service delivery rather than crude service reductions or by slashing staff numbers.'
Mr Herring acknowledged bed pressures had been experienced for many years, including earlier this year, but a number of improvements had reduced the need for patients to be kept in.
* More surgical day cases are being carried out.
*A new forward waiting area which avoids the need for surgical patients to be brought in before the day of their operation.
* Substantial improvements to dis-charge arrangements.
* Moving patients through the system has been speeded up for certain conditions with more improvements anticipated before the end of September.
Mr Herring denied the closures had been introduced in a panic and had been under consideration for a number of months.
He said no formal consultation was required by law because no service changes or reduction was associated with the bed reductions.
Mr Herring said 45 of the 53 bed losses had been in place for the past three months and 'not once' during this period had a red alert been issued to GPs indicating a bed problem.
He added: 'At the time of writing this response there were 13 empty medical and 12 empty surgical beds.
'If there has been extra demand for beds on a particular day then a small number of the closed beds have been temporarily reopened.
'Prior to the bed reductions no beds were available to accommodate excessive levels of admissions.
'We now have the ability, if it is necessary, to flexibly open beds.'
About 50 posts are expected to be shed as a result of the changes from areas such as nursing, administration and possibly corporate support.
There may also be a reductions in cleaning staff but Mr Herring said these would only be associated with closed ward areas allaying fears about a fall in cleanliness standards.