OVERNIGHT emergency admissions to the medical assessment unit (MAU) at Gwent's newest hospital are set to stop for a "very short period" from next month.

The withdrawal of a second set of junior doctors from out-of-hours work at the £172 million Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr (YYF) in Ystrad Mynach - demanded by the Wales Deanery, which oversees' doctors' training and education in Wales - has forced a revamp of staffing rotas at its Local Emergency Centre.

But Aneurin Bevan University Health Board is stressing that 24/7 admissions will resume as quickly as possible, when a recruitment programme for specialist nurses has been completed.

In the interim, patients who would have been overnight (8pm-8am) admissions at YYF will be taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport.

The Deanery first intervened a year ago, ordering that Core Medical Training (CMT) doctors undertake their out-of-hours on-call training at a busier hospital, in this case the Royal Gwent in Newport.

There have also been concerns that junior doctors at YYF have difficulty accessing teaching and do not get enough on-the-job consultant support.

A report to health board members on the issue last September warned that the proposed withdrawal of junior doctors would make running the MAU - which has dealt with more than 16,000 patients in three years - during the night "totally unsustainable."

But health board medical director Paul Buss said then that plans were already in place for changing the staffing mix, along similar lines to those employed in pilot schemes at hospital in England, which had produced positive results.

The problem was the timescale, with the health board arguing for a more incremental change.

He stressed however that a sustainable service for patients is the priority, and with the junior doctor withdrawals set to happen, a short term suspension of overnight admissions is the seen as the safest solution.

The health board has worked for several months to boost consultant level cover at YYF, and a spokesman said:

“Doctors at consultant level providing daytime cover seven days a week for patients requiring treatment for a medical condition are in place, and the non-training grade junior doctor rota to ensure safe night time cover has been arranged.

"We also need to recruit the necessary senior advanced nurse practitioners and this is also underway.

"For the first few weeks, we are planning to run a daytime service and night time for inpatients only. This is in order to establish the safe running of this model of care, which is called ‘hospital at night’.

"This means there will be no emergency intake to the medical assessment unit (at YYF) for a very short period of time. Overnight, new emergency admissions will be directed to the Royal Gwent Hospital.

"Following this short disruption, the intention is that we will then start to allow a controlled and clinically safe resumption of the full service, to admit patients 24/7 supported by a new clinical workforce model of care.”