THE Grange University Hospital near Cwmbran will open in mid-November, four months ahead of schedule, it has been confirmed.

The possibility of opening what will be a specialist and critical care centre for Gwent's sickest patients in November - instead of March next year as originally planned - emerged out of preparations made last spring to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Part of the hospital was finished last April, almost a year early, to house hundreds of beds for use to cope with a possible surge in demand at the height of the first wave of coronavirus.

It turned out they were not required then - but Aneurin Bevan University Health Board immediately began to plan and lobby for the hospital to open ahead of next winter, so vital extra capacity will be available in the event of a second wave of coronavirus during what is always the busiest part of the year for the NHS.

The hospital, at Llanfrechfa, has received more than £360 million in Welsh Government funding, and will have 471 beds.

It includes a 24-hour specialist assessment facility, intensive care facilities, and comprehensive diagnostic facilities, inpatient beds for major emergencies and complex surgery, and operating theatres.

“It’s with great pleasure that I am able to announce the Grange will open ahead of schedule," said health minister Vaughan Gething.


"It is testament to the hard work of everyone involved that this has been achieved, and even more so during these challenging times.

"The new date gives us the opportunity to now include the facility in winter preparations and provide more capacity and resilience. It can also assist with any possible future waves of the coronavirus.

“The new facility is another example of key investments being made into the NHS here in Wales, which benefit both patients and staff. I’m positive that this fantastic new facility will also help us attract more people to working in the birthplace of the NHS.”

Health board chief executive Judith Paget said: “We are delighted that our new hospital will open four months earlier than planned to help us respond to winter pressures and a potential second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic."

Key services will remain at the Royal Gwent and Nevill Hall Hospitals, with inpatient and outpatient care including diagnostic tests, therapies, minor injuries treatment, and midwifery-led birthing services.

The aim is that these will join Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr at Ystrad Mynach, Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan in Ebbw Vale, Chepstow Community Hospital, and County Hospital at Griffithstown, to provide a network of hospitals able to provide the majority of care for their local communities

Alongside the Grange University Hospital providing state of the art facilities, more than 600 jobs were created during the three-year building phase.

The hospital will employ more than 3,000 people when it opens, with around 600 on shift at any one time.

“The centralisation of our specialist and critical care services at the Grange University Hospital will provide increased resilience for our services, the extra flexibility of having 75 per cent single rooms to treat seriously ill or infectious patients, additional capacity to ventilate patients requiring critical care, and make better use of our staff resources to deliver the highest quality of care to our patients," said Ms Paget.

“We are very grateful for the support we have received from Welsh Government, our staff, partners and the public as we work towards the opening of the hospital and implement significant changes to the way we deliver our NHS services in Gwent, according to our longstanding Clinical Futures plan.”