THE British Red Cross has returned to The Countess of Chester Hospital to help staff discharge patients during the busy winter months.

The British Red Cross Accident & Emergency (A&E) discharge service gives doctors and nurses the confidence to discharge vulnerable patients safe in the knowledge that they will be seen safely home.

The community and voluntary sector partnership was first implemented in January 2016 and proved so successful that the team is back to help again this year.

With a core team of six members of staff, the service has the flexibility to call on additional volunteers from the wider region if required and operates from Monday to Friday between 9am to 5pm.

There are also plans to extend the service hours to 8pm in the near future to best support the Countess and its patients.

Helen Featherstone, Red Cross service manager, said: “After a patient has been discharged, we will take them home and help them to settle in by putting the heating on, making them a cup of tea and a light snack, contacting a relative or neighbour and giving them information about other sources of support.

“We find that the emotional support and care given by our staff is important in the first hours after discharge and makes it less likely that a vulnerable person will call for further medical assistance.”

Tony Chambers, chief executive at The Countess, said: “We are so pleased to have Helen and the team back with us again this year. We’ve developed a successful working partnership with them and they provide great support to patients when they are discharged from A&E.

“It is reassuring to know that when our patients leave our care they have someone with them to ensure they are settled in at home safely. They really do provide a great service and it is very much appreciated by us all at the Countess.”

The Standard reporter earlier this week that the Liverpool Road hospital is facing “unprecedented” pressures this winter.

Mr Chambers said that in December it has admitted 100 more patients than it could discharge.

It also witnessed the busiest Christmas Day and Boxing Day ever, with 433 people attending A&E – up from 343 last year.

Last month also saw a significant increase in people suffering broken hips, with 45 cases of fractured neck of femurs compared to around 25 in previous months.

In a blog posted on the website of the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Mr Chambers thanked staff for their hard work and resilience.