Welsh hospital 'under significant pressure' due to 'high number of Covid patients presenting'

12 December 2020, 20:36 | Updated: 12 December 2020, 21:33

The Grange University Hospital
The Grange University Hospital. Picture: Getty

By Megan White

The Grange University Hospital in south Wales has urged patients to only attend if they "absolutely need to" after a "very high number of Covid patients" presented at A&E.

The hospital in Cwmbran, which only opened on 17 November, said they were "struggling to identify beds for their patients" and had a large number of ambulances waiting outside.

Poppy Vaughan Winter told LBC that her 73-year-old uncle had been waiting in an ambulance at the hospital for 19 hours with suspected sepsis or stroke and had not been seen.

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It came as Vaughan Gething, health minister for Wales, said the country faces an "incredibly serious situation" with a "rising tide of infections" since the relaxation of rules on November 9.

In a statement, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said: "The Grange University Hospital is under significant pressure this afternoon due to the very high number of Covid patients presenting.

"We're now struggling to identify beds for our patients and we also have a high number of ambulances waiting outside the hospital.

"WE NEED YOUR HELP. Please only attend or dial 999 if you absolutely need to. Please consider alternative services if you become unwell.

"You can check your symptoms at http://111.wales.nhs.uk or for advice call NHS 111.

"Thank you for your understanding at this very difficult time."

Ms Vaughan Winter told LBC she was "sick with worry" as her uncle's wait continued into Saturday evening.

She said: "I am sick with worry - my uncle was rushed to hospital in the early hours of Saturday and late evening he is still waiting in an ambulance.

"Getting information is almost impossible, the hospital seems too overwhelmed, not just with patients but its telephone system seems swamped as well.

"My aunt, who herself is unwell, and a recent amputee, is desperate with worry—and we, her family, are trying to get as much information and support to her as possible.

"But all we can say with certainty is that Ted is still in an ambulance, his situation is described as “unchanged”—and he was very poorly when he was blue-lighted to The Grange University Hospital.

"NHS Wales seems to be in a crisis this evening and isn’t coping.

"I love my uncle and aunt and feel helpless to act; at least media pressure will mean that this crisis isn’t overlooked."

Mr Gething said people should "keep doing the right thing," adding that the country expected a rise in cases after both Christmas and New Year.

He said: "This is hugely serious. It's for all of us to play our part.

"All those people doing the right thing should keep on doing that, everyone needs to think again about how many people they are seeing, what contact they are having with them, and think about how you can reduce your contact to protect yourself and each other."

Mr Gething said the Welsh Government could theoretically break the agreement between Westminster and devolved administrations to relax social distancing rules for five days over the festive period, but added it would cause a loss of trust.

He said: "There are huge issues here about trust in the government.

"If we were to upset those rules we would lose lots of trust from a large number of people who have stuck with us and we would also see I'm afraid a range of people prepared to ignore the rules.

"Even with the agreement in place we're likely to see a number of people go beyond that anyway.

"That's why we are anticipating an increase after Christmas and why I expect there will be an increase after New Year's Eve as well."