The Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has submitted plans for a new facility to replace its existing Women and Children’s Building.
The proposals reflect the Trust’s ambition to provide the highest quality care for patients and their families, using modern technology and infrastructure to enhance treatment options for the local community and wider region. NHS England has supported the plans, with the Trust receiving £110m of a national capital fund to make it possible.
Most of the services currently housed in the existing Women and Children’s Building would move into the new development, including maternity, neonatal, paediatrics and gynaecology, with increased capacity and additional modern rest spaces for patients, families and staff to enjoy.
Hilda Gwilliams, Acting Chief Executive of the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am delighted that this week the Trust has been able to submit its planning application for a new Women and Children’s Building. The existing Women and Children’s Building was one of the earliest parts of the modern Countess hospital and has supported countless patients and their families over the past 50 years.
“The proposed new Women and Children’s Building represents a hugely positive development for the Trust that will enable a step-change in how we provide families with the highest levels of care and treatment, while supporting our wider ambition to tackle health inequalities in our region.”
The current Women and Children’s Building was built in 1971 – 12 years before the main building first opened and 13 years before the hospital was officially named the ‘Countess of Chester’ on 30 May 1984.
Maternity services at the Countess currently support around 2,300 expectant families every year from Chester, Ellesmere Port and the surrounding areas including North Wales. As part of the plans, they would use a new ground floor full delivery suite for 11 births, with two Obstetric theatres, before moving to a first floor Maternity Ward with 24 single bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.
A neonatal unit with up to 16 cots will also be created on the ground floor, relocating the current unit that opened in 2021 after generous contributions from donors to the Countess Charity’s Babygrow Appeal made it possible.
During the planning stages it was confirmed that it would not be possible to locate the new building adjacent to the existing Neonatal Unit while retaining the safe and excellent standards of care patients and families expect. Discussions are currently ongoing about the best possible use for the existing Neonatal Unit’s building.
Elsewhere, the second floor will house a new Children’s Ward, complete with access to overnight accommodation for patients, as well as increased rest facilities for hospital staff.
Dr Sara Brigham, Clinical Lead in Obstetrics at the Countess, said: “Providing a new Women’s and Children’s building offers us an exciting opportunity to further enhance the quality of our care and treatment for our local community and the wider region. Our current Women and Children’s Building has served our local communities well for so long, but the time is right to move forward and recognise the huge improvements these new plans would bring for patients, families and our teams within the hospital. It’s really exciting to think we could be working in a facility like this in the near future.”
Pictured - An artist’s impression of what the final building may look like. The final design may be different.