Welsh Health Board and Local Councils Stand Down Some Services to Cope with Flood of Covid Patients and Sick Staff

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Councils today issued a joint statement announcing the decision to stand down – we reprint the statement in full below:

There has been an alarming increase of Covid-19 cases across Wales which is continuing to put our health and care services under severe pressure and is projected to continue in the coming weeks.

Such is the pressure in our areas of Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf, and Merthyr Tydfil that in the last week the equivalent of almost 4 people acquired the virus every 10 minutes. The transmission rates in our council areas are in the highest 20 areas in the whole of the UK.

Against this backdrop our health and social care teams across the Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board area are continuing to work closely to put us in the best possible position to get through these next critical weeks during the Christmas and New Year period.

This year the traditional peak in demand we usually see in our services will be significantly greater given the high rates of Covid-19 transmission and this poses a real risk to our ability to continue to provide essential services.

The current strain on the health system is serious. Across the Health Board there are 419 suspected, confirmed or recovering Covid-19 patients in our hospitals and our Intensive Care beds are currently near capacity. We have more than 50 patients in our temporary hospital Ysbyty’r Seren. Many of our health and social care staff are off work with Covid-19 and this brings additional challenges in delivering our services.

For that reason, on December 16 Cwm Taf Morgannwg took the difficult decision to begin to stand down some services and to redeploy staff from these services to assist in maintaining core and emergency services across the Health Board:

  • All non-urgent outpatient clinics will be postponed – this includes face to face and virtual
  • All non-urgent planned surgery will be postponed
  • All specialist nurse clinics will be postponed
  • All non-urgent diagnostic services (e.g. radiology/endoscopy) will be postponed
  • Urgent cancer services and clinically urgent patients will continue to be seen

We are continuing to work on these arrangements, and while all our services will be impacted, at this stage services such as paediatrics and maternity will be less impacted. We will update on any further changes.

We will also be working to ensure the rapid and risk assessed discharge of all medically fit patients who no longer need hospital care and our COVID-19 vaccination programme will also continue to be delivered.

This decision has not been taken lightly as we know it will mean people in our communities will not be able to access some local NHS services and many patients will have to wait longer for outpatient appointments and operations. However the rates of transmission and the associated rise in hospital admissions mean that there is no choice if we are to keep essential and emergency services running.

We are appealing to our communities to pull together and do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus and #KeepWalesSafe. You can help stop the spread of Covid-19 in our communities. To save lives right now this means not mixing with other people and not putting yourself and your family at risk for the sake of tradition this Christmas.

You can also do your part by using the appropriate service for your care:

Please only call 999 for life threatening symptoms.

As always, we would like to thank our staff across all four organisations for their continued commitment to our communities.

We will monitor these arrangements and will continue to keep you updated about these temporary changes. Please visit www.cwmtafmorgannwg.wales

Image credit: By Mick Lobb, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14473740

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