DAY surgery capacity is being increased at a Gwent hospital as part of efforts to achieve a UK standard for such operations.

The six-bed Glan Usk suite, formerly a private unit within Abergavenny's Nevill Hall Hospital, is now being used for day surgery patients to try to ease pressure on existing capacity there.

Gwent performs well in day surgery compared to other parts of Wales, against two measures - daycase rates in all surgical specialties, and for procedures included as part of a list known as the BADS (British Association of Day Surgery) 50.

Performance against the BADS 50 list, which does not include procedures in all surgical specialties, is consistently above 75 per cent and has been slightly higher than the Wales average against this measure for almost two years.

The BADS UK standard is for four out of every five procedures on its list to be carried out on a daycase basis.

For all surgical specialties, the daycase rate in Gwent is lower, at 67.5 per cent, but remains just above the Wales rate (65 per cent).

Gwent daycase rates remain slightly below those in England however, on both measures.Cataract operations, hernia repair, and minor orthopaedic surgery are among operations that can be done on a daycase basis, subject to it being deemed appropriate for the patient.

Rates against both measures have improved gradually, but Aneurin Bevan Health Board performance director Allan Davies said there is "a need to push on, as there is a feeling that things have plateaued over the last few months.

"Increasing daycase rates helps ease pressure on hospital beds generally, by minimising patients' length of stay.Different specialties have different daycase targets, to reflect the range of operations that can be done on that basis.

In Gwent, urology, gynaecology, ENT (ear, nose and throat), ophthalmology and oral surgery are meeting their targets. General surgery is close to meeting its target, and orthopaedics is currently four per cent down on its 52 per cent daycase target.