- in Environment
The first major hospital to be built in Wales in more than two decades could open its doors four months ahead of schedule.
The £350m Grange University Hospital in Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, is a 471-bed facility where around three quarters of patients will be treated in their own rooms with ensuite facilities.
First proposed in 2004, it has taken three years to build.
It is now set to open in November, subject to Welsh Government approval.
BBC Wales was given an exclusive tour of the facilities, which overlook the Cwmbran countryside.
The new hospital will provide emergency and urgent care – bringing together services that were previously provided at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport and Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny.
Services like outpatients, diagnostics and care for the elderly will still be provided by those hospitals, along with the smaller Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr in Ystrad Mynach.
The Grange site has 2,612 rooms and more than 40 specialist services, supported by 3,000 staff.
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board hopes the state-of-the-art facilities will act as a magnet for new recruits.
The intensive care department differs to many other hospitals as instead of being one room, it is a collection of individual rooms, separated by glass screens so nurses can monitor two patients at once.
Departments that need to be close together, such as intensive care, the heart unit and relevant operating theatres, are only a short walk away from each other.
Consultant interventional radiologist Dr Chris Chick said: “Historically, our buildings, because they are old, are not designed for the way we would process patients on pathways efficiently.”
He said the new hospital provides “an environment that’s more fitting for a modern way of delivering healthcare”.
Contingency plans had been put in place to open parts of the hospital had the first wave of Covid-19 been more severe.
The hospital’s opening, which was due to happen next spring, has been brought forward to November, providing the Welsh Government gives the go-ahead and releases funding.
Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething indicated the Grange University Hospital could be opened earlier to relieve winter pressures.
“That isn’t about necessarily a second wave or a second surge, it’s actually about our understanding if we can have that hospital operational during winter in any event – regardless of coronavirus – that would have potential benefits,” he said.
“So I’m looking at the opportunity to do so, and we then need to make sure that we’ve got enough capital resources to be able to accelerate that further.”