HEALTH minister Eluned Morgan has said local people using the Grange Hospital are accessing it "in a different way from the way that was envisioned" - putting pressure on the health system.

A recent report by the Aneurin Bevan Community Health Council said that patients were experiencing delays in getting pain relief and that staff were having problems dealing with amount of people attending.

The report noted the praise that the staff received, though some are reportedly considering quitting their jobs due to the constant strain.

Speaking in the Senedd earlier this week, Ms Morgan acknowledged the hospital had staffing issues which has contributed to it having the worst A&E waiting times in Wales.

She said: "We do hope that the Grange will become a flagship hospital, because we've spent a considerable amount of money on it; £358 million has been invested in this hospital to support the people of the Gwent area, and I do think that it's important that we remember the context in which it was opened.

"You must remember that, at the beginning of the pandemic, Gwent was one of the first places in the whole of the United Kingdom that was hit hardest by Covid, so having this hospital being able to take a bit of pressure off other hospitals in the area was a relief at the time.

"But of course, what it meant was that the recruitment that perhaps should have been done was not done in time.

"But you do, I think, need to remember the context in which we are working.

"I'm really pleased now, though, that the health board has understood that they do need to listen to the clinicians who have made their case very clearly through this report."

"The Grange was initially designed as a specialist centre, and provision for general internal medicine wasn't prioritised, but it's clear that the local population are accessing the hospital in a different way from the way that was envisaged and I think the plan now is to make sure that any new recruitment will for example help to establish a front door based frailty service.

"For example, which will be able to be led by a consultant and other senior therapists, which is a provision that wasn't envisaged, but sometimes you do need to respond to, actually, the way that the local population are using the facility, even if that wasn't the way that was envisaged in the first place.

"I know that the health board has done a huge amount of work to try and contact the local population, to try and point them in the right directions in terms of which hospitals they should be attending for what issues.

"We're still going through those teething problems.

"It's just that those teething problems, of course in the middle of a pandemic, have taken longer than they would have, probably, if we weren't in a pandemic."


Responding to the minister's comments, Peter Fox, MS for Monmouth and shadow minister for finance, said he believes problems at the hospital are unsustainable.

Mr Fox said: "Firstly, I acknowledge that the Grange hospital opened at an incredibly difficult time, mainly to help mitigate the increasing pressures of Covid.

"For this, we are all incredibly indebted to the work of our talented healthcare staff.

"But now the hospital is being used in many ways, and not just as it was originally envisioned as a critical care unit.

"It’s clear that the current situation, where the hospital has the worst A&E performance in Wales as well as staff shortages, is unsustainable.

"It’s vital that the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board continues to work in partnership with the Welsh Government to find a solution to these incredibly difficult problems.

"Solutions have to be found as it is totally unfair for the residents of our area to suffer as a result of the current situation.

"There needs to be a fundamental review of how the main hospitals in this region are currently working together and managing this hopefully short-term crisis."