The NHS of Wales is preparing to effectively double its capacity to cope with a possible outbreak of coronavirus patients.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething says military planners will help add 7,000 new hospital beds and more than double the number of ventilators.
He also announced that 2,500 new employees will strengthen the service, including retired professionals, general practitioner replacements and interns.
Sports stadiums and leisure centers are being converted to create additional neighborhoods.
“In the past few days, we have seen an increase in the pace and urgency of the response across Wales to prepare vital health and care services to meet the impending challenges posed by the coronavirus,” said said Mr. Gething.
Intensive care capacity has more than doubled across Wales since the Covid-19 crisis erupted last month – and the government has said that 48% of Wales’ 350 ventilated intensive care beds are occupied , half with coronavirus patients.
Hospitals may redeploy some of the 415 ventilators to other departments, but the Welsh NHS is now purchasing an additional 1,035 to treat the sickest patients.
Where are Wales field hospitals?
- 2,000 beds at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium for Cardiff and Vale Health Board.
- 350 beds at the new £ 350m Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran for Aneurin Bevan’s board of health. Plus 36 beds at St Joseph’s private hospital in Newport.
- 870 beds at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, at the Deeside Leisure Center and at the University of Bangor for the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board.
- 900 beds at the training headquarters of the Welsh Rugby Union in Hensol, Ty Trevithick in Abercynon, and beds in nursing homes and communities of the health council of Cwm Taf.
- 660 beds at the Parc y Scarlets rugby ground in Llanelli, the Bluestone holiday village in Narberth, the Selwyn Samuel Center in Llanelli and the Werndale Hospital in Carmarthen.
- 1,400 beds at the Ospreys rugby Llandarcy Academy of Sport, Swansea’s Bay Studios and at the private hospital in Sancta Maria.
Military planners help add 7,000 beds to Wales’ usual 10,000 bed capacity, most of them in newly established field hospitals, such as installing £ 8,000 of 2,000 beds at the stadium of the Principality of Cardiff.
About 2,500 employees will be added to the 80,000 already working directly for the Welsh NHS, mainly made up of recently retired professionals, GPs and interns.
“I was overwhelmed by the response from health and care professionals to the calls we made for their support,” added Gething.
“In these darkest times, it would be easy to forget what has been accomplished in just a few weeks and the enormous strides that have been made in preparing the NHS and social services for the coronavirus. “
Routine surgery has been canceled in Wales, so hospitals have the capacity to cope with the expected increase in Covid-19 cases.
Another challenge for the Welsh NHS is to further increase the staff to care for the sickest patients on the newly acquired ventilators.
“Across Wales, training has been provided to hundreds of staff who do not normally work in intensive care,” said Dr. Andrew Goodall, Director General of NHS Wales.
“Additional areas have been identified in hospitals to provide more invasive ventilation to patients beyond the space normally available in intensive care units.
“This is in addition to the areas identified as an increase in the capacity of critically ill patients under existing plans to double the capacity when needed. “