VISITORS to the Countess of Chester Hospital may have seen two large construction cranes as work continues apace on the new £110 million Women and Children's Building.

Construction work began in June on the three-storey facility, which will replace the current Women's and Children's Building on site.

Completion of the new state-of-the-art building, which will house maternity, neonatal, paediatrics and gynaecology facilities, is now expected to be in summer 2025. Two large cranes have now appeared on site as work progresses, and these cranes are expected to remain on the hospital grounds until next summer.

The new building will feature a brand new ground floor full delivery suite for 11 births, with two Obstetric theatres and a first floor maternity ward with 24 single bedrooms, as well as en-suite bathrooms that have been specially designed to promote accessibility.

A neonatal unit with up to 16 cots will occupy the ground floor, while the second floor houses a new Children’s Ward, complete with access to overnight accommodation for patients, as well as increased rest facilities for hospital staff.


An artists impression of the new Women and Childrens Building at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

An artist's impression of the new Women and Children's Building at the Countess of Chester Hospital.


Relevant services will all move from the existing hospital site to the new building upon the latter's completion.

Support for the building project comes from Integrated Health Projects (IHP), a joint venture between building companies VINCI Building and Sir Robert McAlpine.

The original Women's and Children's Building was built in 1971 and features the kind of crumbly concrete which hit the headlines recently.

The cheap lightweight alternative to traditional concrete was used in UK building construction between the 1950s and the 1980s and was used in the original section of the hospital building, excluding the neonatal extension built in the last five years. The hospital trust was successful in obtaining a £110m grant from the National RAAC Programme so it could build a new, structurally secure building.

The trust says, for the remaining two years that the current Women and Children's Building is in use, there are "no critical concerns" with the building, and regular checks and maintenance are being carried out.

Joan Carter, project director at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Independent structural engineers conduct thorough annual reviews of the RAAC located in the Women and Children’s Building.

"The reviews are being conducted in line with national guidance from The Institution of Structural Engineers.

"The engineers have no critical concerns. The Trust follows any recommendations they make and this year has taken robust action to install failsafe measures to ensure any risk to patients or staff is minimised.”

For the neonatal unit extension, which was funded thanks to the Standard-backed Babygrow appeal, that facility will be repurposed, potentially as a neonatal training and simulation centre.

Around 2,300 expectant families from Chester, Ellesmere Port and surrounding areas including North Wales are currently supported by maternity services at the Countess.