Cost of creating and maintaining North Wales temporary ‘Rainbow hospitals’ revealed.
The huge cost of establishing and maintaining temporary hospitals within North Wales, to cope with an anticipated rise in the number of Covid-19 positive patients, has been revealed.
A circular sent out by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board chief Mark Polin revealed £60m has been earmarked for the region’s three Rainbow Hospitals in Bangor, Llandudno and Deeside, including £23.6m to build, equip and set up.
Deeside Leisure Centre, Venue Cymru and Bangor University’s Canolfan Brailsford Leisure Centre were transformed in a matter of weeks in a huge effort to get the temporary hospitals ready to accept patients.
The document also reveals how the health board anticipated posting a £40m deficit in the financial year 2019-2020, after making £45m of savings.
However it explains the effects of Covid-19 pushed the board’s deficit up to £178.2m – but “anticipated” Welsh Government funding of £138.2m would help it reach it’s final £40m deficit target.
The document said “£60m of the Covid-19 expenditure relates to the three temporary hospitals we have established in North Wales, which are providing circa 1,000 beds across three locations, in Llandudno, Bangor and Wrexham”.
In May it was disclosed £166m of Welsh Government funding was used to construct, set up and equip the 19 field hospitals in Wales.
Mark Wilkinson, executive director of planning and performance, said: “The £60m figure provided is a potential estimated running cost for the field hospitals.
“Setting up the temporary hospitals has cost around £23.6m.”
Mr Wilkinson also revealed how the health board could gain from the venture in the long term.
“We expect the majority of the equipment secured for the temporary hospitals will be put into use in our existing facilities, once the temporary hospitals are decommissioned,” he said.
The three North Wales Rainbow Hospitals were established to reduce occupancy in BCUHB’s main hospitals during the pandemic.
As well as preventing admissions they were designed to help “step-down” patients, who had received treatment at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Glan Clwyd Hospital and Wrexham Maelor Hospitals, to recover and eventually return home.
The temporary hospitals were not designed to cater for patients needing intubation, so ventilators were not items of equipment fitted within Rainbow Hospitals.
The Venue Cymru site in Llandudno is now being used for maternity outpatient appointments, antibody testing and as an administration centre for some BCUHB staff.
The health board said all the region’s Rainbow Hospitals remain on standby for a second wave of Covid-19 infections, as Wales begins to gradually relax lockdown measures.
There has already been a localised lockdown instigated in Leicester, England, after a rise in cases there.
Meanwhile businesses on Anglesey and in Wrexham have been the centre of isolated outbreaks in North Wales
Councils, in conjunction with Betsi, are in the process of recruiting dedicated Test, Trace and Protect (TTP) staff who will track down those people who have closely associated with anyone who contracts the novel coronavirus and will ask them to self-isolate.
It is hoped the strategy will snuff out any expected outbreaks in the community before the virus has a chance to spread widely.
Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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