Non-urgent operations and appointments are being cancelled at the Countess of Chester Hospital so under-pressure staff can focus on emergency cases.

Every hospital in the country has been ordered by NHS officials to put off non-urgent surgery until at least February due to mounting winter pressures.

The Countess this morning issued guidance to anyone who has an operation or appointment there in the coming weeks.

They say patients should attend as normal, unless they have been contacted saying otherwise.

All surgery relating the cancer care and emergencies is continuing as normal.

Tony Chambers, chief executive of the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Trust, said: “During extremely busy periods like this we do sometimes have to cancel procedures, but we do not do so lightly. We understand how upsetting this can be for our patients, but we need to prioritise those who need care urgently.”

A statement from the hospital added: “You have may seen in the media that hospitals across the country are cancelling planned surgery and outpatient appointments to give greater support for emergency cases. We are no different at the Countess as we work with our doctors and nurses to make adjustments when appropriate to deal with the high volume of acutely unwell patients we are seeing at present.”

Countess bosses are reviewing the situation on a “weekly basis” and will always speak to patients directly in advance if there is a chance of their appointment or procedure being cancelled, the statement added.

On Wednesday, Countess chiefs warned of “longer than normal” waiting times in A&E as winter illnesses pile pressure on them their service.

They urged people only to attend the accident and emergency department if their condition is serious.