This month, TWO years ago, the Grange University Hospital opened in Cwmbran, which was introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.
The hospital opened to treat the most seriously ill and injured patients in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board region.
The project received £350m in funding from the Welsh Government, with an additional investment of £10m to get underway ahead of schedule.
Following the early opening of part of the hospital, an additional £10m in Welsh Government funding was awarded to enable the hospital to fully open in Autumn 2020.
And, as the second wave of coronavirus built up in Wales, the state-of-the-art hospital opened on November 17, 2020.
The Grange has become Gwent’s only hospital for accident and emergency (A&E) care: The Royal Gwent, Nevill Hall and Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr now operate minor injury units.
However, it’s safe to say that, two years on, he hasn’t had the easiest of rides.
This year there have been numerous reports of long waits both inside and outside of hospital ambulances.
Ambulance crews have spent more than 2,000 hours a month out of Grange University Hospital, on average, since it opened two years ago.
As the Argus previously reported, a series of “patient flow” bottlenecks in health and social care have contributed to a chain reaction of delays in hospitals, with long waits for discharge leading to a lack of beds for those who arrive at the front door.
In one month alone, ambulance crews lost 3,155 hours because they had to wait outside the Grange.
Monmouth MP David Davies has repeatedly called on the Welsh government to launch an independent public inquiry into the healthcare failures affecting Monmouthshire after a series of incidents.
These include an 84-year-old woman with a head injury who spent 24 hours being treated in ambulances outside The Grange due to a lack of beds, and a suspected heart attack victim who was told he had to wait two hours for an ambulance.
However, the health minister, Eluned Morgan, has refused to conduct a public inquiry, stating that it is the responsibility of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust and their partners to ensure that patients receive a “safe and timely access to evaluation and treatment.”
In August, the health board announced that a new Same Day Emergency Care (SDEC) Unit had opened at The Grange.
“Our Emergency Department and services remain extremely busy and we know the upcoming winter season will bring more pressures,” the health board said.
The new Same Day Emergency Care Unit in Grange, developed with an investment from the Welsh Government, the health board says, will provide same-day assessments and treatment.
“This means more patients will be able to receive emergency care without needing to be admitted to hospital overnight, freeing up beds for those who need them most,” they said.
“You cannot self-report to SDEC. Before you are asked to attend the unit, you will first need to be evaluated by your GP or a triage nurse in the Emergency Department.”
Looking ahead, Welsh Minister for Health, Eluned Morgan, has The return of masks and other coronavirus mitigation measures is not ruled out have not been ruled out either.
The Welsh Government currently has a number of virus ‘models’ that forecast potential outbreaks and spreads.
When asked if there were any potential patterns that were cause for concern, Ms. Morgan said: “The one that says we’re going to have a strong spike in December/January.”
“If we were to see the flu and covid at the same time, that would provide us with a critical point.”
Such a “tipping point” would likely have spillover effects similar to those experienced during the pandemic.
Ms Morgan said: “Vaccination is our best weapon in the fight against covid,” she said.
“It is possible that we have another variant that evades our vaccine.
“Some boards of health are beginning to reintroduce face coverings in clinical settings.
“We will reintroduce measures if necessary.”
However, he stressed that Wales “remains in a stable Covid situation” at the moment.