North Wales Rainbow Hospitals to remain in place for ‘a number of months’ ahead of possible future spikes
Temporary hospitals in North Wales could be used to help support the return of “more activity” in the NHS as one option being “actively considered” by the Welsh Government.
Last month work began across Wales to create field hospitals to help cope with any increased demand on capacity due to coronavirus – with venues in Deeside, Llandudno and Bangor announced as the three North Wales locations.
The three sites were handed over to Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to provide a combined 1,000 additional beds to help meet any increased demand.
As well as preventing admissions to health board’s three acute hospitals, the rainbow hospitals are also expected to help patients who have received treatment at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Glan Clwyd Hospital and Wrexham Maelor Hospital to recover in order to return home.
It was expected that the hospitals would begin providing care for patients at the end of the month.
Speaking last week Dr Chris Stockport, Executive Director of Primary and Community Care, said: “Work is progressing well on our three temporary Rainbow Hospitals (Ysbytai Enfys).
“These Rainbow Hospitals are being rapidly established to help ensure that we are well prepared for a surge in demand.
Current modelling indicates that these beds will not be needed for some weeks.
“This is because of the measures we have already taken to increase bed capacity in our existing hospitals, and the efforts of the North Wales public who are following the stay at home guidance.
“We would like to thank people in communities across the region who are protecting the NHS and saving lives by staying at home.”
Earlier this week it was announced that the Nightingale Hospital in London would be mothballed for any future spike in coronavirus cases after a thankfully lower use requirement than first thought.
At today’s Welsh Government press conference we asked Health Secretary Vaughan Gething about the situation regarding admissions to the three North Wales field hospitals and given the concern over future spikes of coronavirus, would they be kept in reserve for a long term period.
Mr Gething said that two options for the future use of the field hospitals were being “actively considered”, including using the sites to help support the return of more NHS activity.
He continued: “We’ve said for a number of weeks that we want people who have urgent care needs to carry on coming in to our health and care system and it’s a real concern to me that people with urgent care needs haven’t been coming in, in the sort of numbers that we would expect.
“That bothers me because there’s avoidable harm taking place because people are not coming and presenting themselves to the National Health Service.
“I’ve asked the health service to think about this and to come back with some advice and a plan for a framework for restarting wider areas of NHS activity to, and how to make use of the physical capacity we’ve got in field hospitals.”
However Mr Gething warned that the hospitals would not be used to full capacity due to the risk of a second wave of coronavirus and the number of staff that would be required at the sites.
He added: “I absolutely will not agree to making full use of field hospitals, because we need to staff those.”
“I’m very grateful people are returned to the National Health Service, to the over 2000 undergraduate students who are working in this unprecedented time.
“But we cannot fill up our field hospital capacity, because if we do have a further spike in Coronavirus, which is possible, then we will need that capacity to make sure that our healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed.
“So yes, we’re looking at how to make use of the capacity we have.
“We certainly won’t be making use of all of it, that will be the wrong thing to do because I have to make sure that we’re prepared for a possible future peak, which means we’ll need to have these field hospitals in place and ready to use for a number of months to come.”
You can watch today’s briefing, along with the Q&A session below:
🎥 Yn fyw nawr | 🎥 Live now: https://t.co/TDdt0cfAXr
— Welsh Government (@WelshGovernment) May 5, 2020
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