The health service in Wales is set for a “difficult” winter, according to Chief Medical Officer Frank Atherton.

Speaking to Members of the Senedd’s health committee this morning, Dr Atherton painted a stark picture of the pressures that the NHS in Wales is currently facing.

In recent weeks, hospitalisations as a result of covid are once again on the rise – as cases grow across Wales, including Newport and Gwent.

Coupled with the existing pressures that the service experiences during the winter months, and the additional strain on the Welsh Ambulance Service, a tough winter is expected for those on the front line.

In just two weeks, the number of people suffering from covid and requiring a hospital bed has nearly doubled, up to 617 – as of September 21.

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Earlier this month, it was revealed that once again, there were more patients with covid-19 occupying Intensive Care beds at The Grange University Hospital in Gwent, than those with other ailments.

With these pressures in mind, First Minister Mark Drakeford told the Argus on Friday, September 10 that the risk that non-covid procedures could be impacted “is inevitably there”.

Today, Dr Atherton revealed that the current state of play in hospitals across Wales – saying that staff will be experiencing the usual additional winter pressures already.

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What has been said?

Addressing the Welsh Parliament Health and Social Care Committee, Dr Atherton said that the current wave of cases “is transmitting very much in the under 25 (age) range.”

As for what this has done to the pressures on Welsh hospitals, he said: “That is translating into some degree of hospital activity, hospital harm.

“The numbers of coronavirus patients in Welsh hospitals has been steadily increasing over the last month.”

Heading into winter, Dr Atherton said: “I do worry about winter. We’re going into winter with very high levels of hospital activity. Some of that is coronavirus related, some of it is related to the catch-up and the non-covid activity.

“There is a prospect, of course, of other seasonal viruses coming our way in the winter months, as they usually do every year.

“Last year, we had very little in the way of flu virus circulating but this year, we are anticipating a probably resurgence.

“So the winter is likely to be quite a difficult one for the health service.”