GWENT'S newest hospital - the £172 million Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr - chalked up more than 100,000 attendances by patients in its first year.

The hospital, which replaced Caerphilly Miners' and several community hospitals across the county borough, is delivering on its promise despite teething problems including a lack of signs and concerns over staffing levels.

More than 28,000 people used its minor injuries unit during its first year, 42 per cent up on that at the old Caerphilly District Miners' Hospital, and health bosses also report big increases in the use of other services.

More than 5,500 patients were assessed in the YYF medical assessment unit, 70 per cent up on the old unit at the Miners'.

And the new hospital's midwifery-led birth centre delivered 320 babies during January-October this year, compared to the 271 the Miners' birthing unit during the same period in 2011.

Built on the outskirts of Ystrad Mynach, Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr (YYF) was designed to bring a range of hospital services closer to patients, predominantly those living in Caerphilly county borough, providing a modern replacement for outdated facilities.

Many more outpatient clinics are being provided at YYF compared to the Miners', with around 4,000 such patients being seen per quarter this year, compared to 2,000 per quarter during 2011.

The outpatient department has been so successful, space "is now at a premium" according to an Aneurin Bevan Health Board report.  Rheumatology outpatient services formerly provided in Cardiff are the latest to transfer.

Children's outpatient numbers have also doubled, compared to the Miners', working toward 2,500 a year.

The hospital's therapy unit had more than 46,000 patient attendances in its first year, covering a range of needs from physical rehabilitation to speech and language therapy, many of which were not previously catered for in the county borough.  There were also 4,500 attendances for podiatry and orthotics.

The hospital has a dedicated foot and ankle unit, taking patients from across Gwent, and general surgery and gynaecological operations are also taking place, as well as orthopaedic surgery.  Ear. nose and throat surgery will be provided at YYF in the near future, working toward the objective of 4,300 operations a year.

YYF is a base too, for the Gwent GP out-of-hours service, which dealt with almost 17,000 calls in the first year.

The hospital also has single rooms for patients, helping improve infection control. There were 24 cases of the superbug Clostridium Difficile in the year to October, compared to 43 the previous year.

  Hospital had teething problems

TEETHING problems at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr included a lack of signs inside and outside, and concerns over staffing given the switch to single rooms for patients.

An unannounced visit last month by a team of patients' watchdogs from Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council noted a number of improvements in these and other areas, though more work is required on signs, availability of clean linen, especially at weekends, and general security.

The health board also acknowledges that awareness of the extra services available needs to be raised, as it does regarding the type of injuries and conditions treatable in the hospital's Local Emergency Centre.