Countess of Chester Hospital

The Countess of Chester is the main NHS hospital for Chester and its surrounding area. It currently has 625 beds, general medical departments and a 24-hour accident and emergency unit. It is managed by the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which was one of the first Foundation Trusts, formed in 2004.[1]

Countess of Chester Hospital
Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Countess of Chester - - 1336493.jpg
Pedestrian entrance to Countess of Chester Hospital, Liverpool Road, Chester
Countess of Chester Hospital is located in Cheshire
Countess of Chester Hospital
Location in Cheshire
LocationChester, Cheshire, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates53°12′31″N 2°53′55″W / 53.20861°N 2.89861°W / 53.20861; -2.89861Coordinates: 53°12′31″N 2°53′55″W / 53.20861°N 2.89861°W / 53.20861; -2.89861
Care systemPublic NHS
TypeDistrict General
Affiliated universityUniversity of Liverpool School of Medicine
University of Chester
Swansea University School of Medicine
Emergency departmentYes Accident & Emergency
Opened1829 Cheshire Lunatic Asylum
1968 West Cheshire Hospital
1984 Countess of Chester Hospital
ListsHospitals in England


Cheshire Lunatic Asylum, engraving by Dean after Musgrove

The hospital has its origins in the "Cheshire Lunatic Asylum" which opened on part of the site in 1829.[2] The name of the facility changed to "County Mental Hospital" in 1921, to the "Upton Mental Hospital" on joining the National Health Service in 1948, and then to the "Deva Hospital" in 1950.[2]

By 1948, Chester Royal Infirmary specialized in surgery and out-patients and the City Hospital, Hoole, in chronic illnesses, chest, maternity, paediatric, and general medical cases. Pre-war plans for the expansion of the Infirmary were eventually revived. In 1963 a large out-patient and casualty department was opened at the infirmary; this was accompanied with the completion of the Chester inner ring road in 1967. However, after the creation of the West Cheshire HMC (hospital management committee), a fresh decision was taken to focus all the hospital services for the district at a purpose-built site on Liverpool Road, adjacent to the county mental hospital facilities.[2]

In 1968, the new site was renamed the "West Cheshire Hospital". The maternity unit at the City Hospital was transferred to a new building at the south end of the site in 1971. With the opening of a new general wing and A&E department in 1983, several surgical departments from the Royal Infirmary were relocated to the new buildings. On 30 May 1984, West Cheshire Hospital was officially renamed the Countess of Chester Hospital by Prince Charles and Diana, then Prince and Princess of Wales and (therefore) Earl and Countess of Chester.[3] In 1993, the Royal Infirmary site was closed after its remaining departments were transferred to the Countess. The City Hospital, which had become a 120-bed geriatric unit, was closed in 1994 after its services were taken over by the Countess in 1991.[2]

In January 2006, the CARE building, sometimes known as Outpatients Four, opened and started providing new facilities the Cardiac Catheter Laboratory, Department of Clinical Audiology, Renal & Urology Department and ENT Department.[4]

In 2007, the Countess of Chester became the first hospital in the UK to completely ban smoking for both workers and patients.[5] In April 2014 a new two-storey wing was opened containing a state of the art 21 bed Intensive Care Unit on the first floor, replacing the old HDU and ITU wards. On the ground floor is an expanded endoscopy unit and the bariatric outpatients department.[6]


Part of the old mental health hospital building, now called the 1829 Building, serves as headquarters for West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and various other NHS support organisations. The Bowmere mental health hospital is on the same site,[7] as is Ancora House, a purpose-built Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services unit.[8]

In April 2019 it announced that it would no longer provide elective treatment for Welsh patients because the Welsh government were not prepared to pay the full costs.[9] The Welsh government have not increased the tariff for NHS procedures in line with NHS England, so the trust is paid about 8% less for patients from Wales. Rising waiting lists mean the trust can increase the work it does for English patients, which is more remunerative.[10]


Four-hour target in the emergency department quarterly figures from NHS England Data from

Before becoming a foundation trust in 2004, the trust received top 3-star rating in the former national performance charts.[11] In 2016, the CQC rated the hospital as requiring improvement.[12]

The Trust lost the contract for sexual health services when Cheshire West and Chester Council awarded it to East Cheshire NHS Trust in December 2014.[13]

In 2015/6 it cancelled urgent operations 37 times - the highest number of any NHS trust in England.[14]

Investigation into high infant mortality ratesEdit

In July 2016 the Neonatal unit at the Countess of Chester Hospital stopped accepting premature infants born before 32 weeks, partially due to an unexplained high mortality rate in 2015 and 2016, instead diverting them to other hospitals in the North West of England, such as Alder Hey.[15] A series of investigations were initiated to ascertain the reasons for the sharp rise in mortalities,[16] with an independent review being carried out by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Nursing. Despite this report finding some staffing levels "inadequate",[17] the Foundation Trust were unable to identify the fundamental cause or causes of the high mortality rate, with the independent report similarly finding "no single cause or factor identified to explain the increase .. seen in [the] mortality numbers".[18] In May 2017, the Foundation Trust brought Cheshire Police in to assist with the ongoing review, stating this was to "seek assurances that enable us to rule out unnatural causes of death."[19]

On 3 July 2018, a registered nurse working in the neonatal unit at the hospital was arrested by police on suspicion of eight counts of suspected murder and six counts of attempted murder, following a year-long investigation.[20] The investigation was subsequently widened to include Liverpool Women's Hospital, another location at which the nurse (Lucy Letby) had worked.[17] Letby was bailed on 6 July 2018 as the police continued their enquiries,[21] was rearrested on 10 June 2019 in connection with eight alleged murders and nine alleged attempted murders of babies,[22] and again on 10 November 2020.[23][24] On 11 November 2020, Letby was charged with eight counts of murder and ten counts of attempted murder.[24] She is due to stand trial on 4 July 2022.[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "First foundation trusts announced". BBC News. 31 March 2004.
  2. ^ a b c d "A History of the County of Chester: Volume 5 part 2: The City of Chester: Culture, Buildings, Institutions". Victoria County History. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Help hospital recreate historic day". Chester Chronicle. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust". Renal Association. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Hospital "stubs out" bad example". BBC News. 24 January 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Hospital wing will create terrific critical care unit in Chester". 1 October 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Bowmere Hospital". CWP NHS Foundation Trust. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Ancora House". CWP NHS Foundation Trust. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Countess of Chester Hospital says no to Wales' patients". BBC. 4 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Hospitals could ban Welsh patients over funding row". Times. 14 April 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Trust NHS performance ratings (2003/2004): Trust detail report". Healthcare Commission. Archived from the original on 21 March 2009.
  12. ^ "The Countess of Chester Hospital". Care Quality Commission. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  13. ^ "Chester doctors go to war with council over sexual health". Chester Chronicle. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Rise in urgent operations being cancelled". Health Service Journal. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Information about neonatal services at The Countess". Countess of Chester NHS FT. 6 July 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  16. ^ Thomas, Justin (8 July 2018). "All health organisations collect data, but failing to analyse it can put lives at risk". The National. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  17. ^ a b Parveen, Nazia (4 July 2018). "Cheshire baby deaths: police widen inquiry to second hospital". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  18. ^ Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (23 May 2017). "Annual Report & Accounts 2016/17" (PDF). Countess of Chester NHS FT. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  19. ^ "Neonatal Update - Thursday 18 May". Countess of Chester NHS FT. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Nurse arrested over Chester Hospital baby deaths". BBC News. 4 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  21. ^ "Update on Countess of Chester Hospital neonatal unit investigation". Cheshire Constabulary. 6 July 2018. Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  22. ^ Halliday, Josh (10 June 2019). "Police investigating baby deaths at Chester hospital rearrest nurse". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  23. ^ "Chester hospital baby deaths probe: Nurse Lucy Letby rearrested". BBC. BBC News. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  24. ^ a b "Nurse Lucy Letby charged with murder after Chester hospital baby deaths". The Guardian. PA Media. 11 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  25. ^ "Lucy Letby: Trial date set for nurse accused of baby murders". BBC. 18 May 2021. Retrieved 18 May 2021.

External linksEdit