A hospital in the South Wales Valleys has stopped operations amid an outbreak of 82 new coronavirus cases linked to the site.
Eight people have died of coronavirus at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, near Llantrisant in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The emergency measures are a warning about what will happen as hospitals across Britain struggle to cope with the second wave of coronavirus.
The Royal Glamorgan temporarily suspended operations and restricted access to its A&E department to walk-in patients from Wednesday.
Only a small number of urgent cancer surgeries will continue at the hospital. And patients who need emergency care will be forced to go to hospitals in Merthyr Tydfil, Cardiff or Bridgend.
The measures came after the hospital closed two wards last week in the hope of containing a cluster of 34 cases. Hospital boss Paul Mears told a Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board meeting there is a “very significant situation” at the site, with six patients in intensive care.
“It’s very clear that we have a situation that has escalated quite significantly over the past few days,” he said.
Other measures include stopping health workers, and some patients, moving between wards.
Cwm Taf’s director of public health, Kelechi Nnoaham, said the outbreak was likely caused by a “super spreader” event. This is when an individual with coronavirus spreads it to multiple other people, rather than starting a chain of infection.
If more hospitals restrict services, it could mean far more “excess deaths” from conditions other than coronavirus.
Some hospitals in neighbouring areas are also now facing an increase in coronavirus cases.
The Aneurin Bevan health board—which covers Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Newport and Torfaen—says its hospitals are “very busy”.
The Royal Glamorgan Hospital is in an area currently in a local lockdown due to a spike in coronavirus cases. People have not been allowed to enter or leave the Rhondda Cynon Taf borough council boundary area without a “reasonable excuse” since 6pm on 17 September.
The Labour-run Welsh government has taken a more cautious approach to lifting the national lockdown than the Tories in England. But right across England, Scotland and Wales, bosses are putting profits before people’s health and lives and setting the political agenda.
The resurgence of coronavirus has been caused by the Tories’ and big businesses’ drive to get profits flowing again—to herd people onto public transport and back to work. It is not the fault of ordinary people not following the rules or other groups ministers try to scapegoat for their failures.
And a decade of Tory budget cuts—which have affected NHS Wales too—have left the health services exposed.
Reballots have opened the way to bigger struggle