Chronicle readers have leapt to the defence of the Countess of Chester Hospital in the wake of it being revealed as having one of the worst performing A&A units in the country.

Yesterday, we ran a story about the Countess being among 30 hospitals struggling to meet targets requiring 95% of patients to be treated within four hours.

The Chester hospital was 15th in the list of the worst A&E units in the country whoses bosses have been told by NHS chiefs to improve their waiting times, according to our sister website The Mirror.

But this prompted an outpouring of praise and support on the Chronicle Facebook from readers who shared their experiences of using the A&E unit at the Countess.

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Mike Hopwood said: “COCH A&E saved my life three years ago, so nothing but praise from me. I think part of problem lies in people going to A&E when they perhaps could seek treatment elsewhere.”

There a similar account from Elaine Rees who said: “Been there a few times in past few years and all I can say is, I would not be here if it wasn’t for the fantastic nurses and doctors there.

“If you have to wait it’s because they are dealing with life or death situations or people in severe pain that need help more than you do. Most of us couldn’t afford medical care if it was like America so we would die!”

Rhiannon Louise Murphy certainly had no problem with the amount of tinme she had to wait: “They were brilliant when I was admitted. I waited about 15 minutes in A&E and was on a ward within an hour or so. Lovely, compassionate staff.”

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And Kelly Ckc Brooks said: “Couldn’t fault them when I took my little girl in. The nurse was fantastic and still to this day my daughter talks about the nice nurse.”

Amy-Louise Read also shared her experience of taking a child to the unit: “Nothing but praise for them. Everytime my son has been admitted with his asthma they’ve gone above and beyond. They’re overstretched and overworked, that’s the issue.”

This was echoed by Kimberley Gould who said: “We were there this morning at seven with our five-year-old little boy and was seen in 15 mins and we able to leave after being treated an hour later. I am aware though there were people waiting there for several hours.”

Emma Davies was more critical of the GP service: “Doesn’t help when you call the GP over minor issues and they tell you to go to A&E. The thought of waiting hours for something not so serious makes you not want to be treated as there’s more important casualties.”

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Kev Houston highlighted another aspect of what staff at the hospital have to cope with: “I needed to visit A&E just before Christmas after sustaining four broken ribs and they were fantastic with me. The workload they have is incredible and they often suffer abuse from drunken idiots. Huge respect for the staff there.”

Inevitably there were those who responded with negative experiences such as Jo McNally who described her visit as ‘pretty naff’ last year.

“I had been on dialysis that afternoon then had to go and wait in A&E where all the chairs were taken and I felt lousy with just getting off my treatment. No one would move even those that were only accompanying someone. The receptionist had to come out and tell someone to move so I was able to sit down.

“But in all fairness it’s better than having to pay for treatment like most countries and they have looked after me and my kids pretty well in the past.”

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And Mirrium Riddaway said: “As much as I know how under staffed/under paid NHS workers are, there is no excuse for being sat in A&E for six hours with a nine month old sat next to drunks spitting and cursing whilst trying to calm my daughter who was struggling to breathe.

“It took them five hours before a member of staff came with a nebuliser. She was then sent to the children’s ward for an overnight stay after being seen by a paediatrician. Not good enough. Children should take priority.”

But the general feeling of most people who responded was appropriately summed up by Kate Dakin who said: “Nothing but huge praise and thanks to COCH A&E. The staff are angels.”