BUS links to Gwent’s biggest hospital are failing to meet the needs of the community, according to critics – and the problem could become even worse in the coming months.

Currently, the Grange University Hospital, in Cwmbran, is only reachable by two regular Newport Bus routes, and is not served by any Stagecoach buses.

The situation has infuriated residents who feel cut off from the region’s only critical-care and A&E hospital.

One man from Cwm had to travel north to Brynmawr just to get a connecting service south to the hospital, Labour Senedd member Alun Davies said, telling the government it was “unfair to put vulnerable people in this position”.

Mr Davies said bus connections “simply don't exist” for people in some parts of Gwent.

In response, minister Lee Waters said the government had “tried to put in place a service to go from his constituency to the Grange, but we've been frustrated by the way the market works” and couldn’t compete with commercial-run services.

Newport Bus told the Argus it wasn’t planning any new links to the hospital, and “due to the limited infrastructure on site it is unlikely it would be able to support many more services”.

In any case, the likelihood of any new bus links to the Grange were dealt a further blow this month after news the Welsh Government would end Covid-era emergency funding for the nation’s bus links in June.

“Currently, due to the Welsh Government’s decision… there is the potential that some bus journeys and services, to this and other health service sites such as hospitals and GPs across Wales, will be curtailed or removed once funding is removed from the industry,” Newport Bus told the Argus.

The government has said it would work together with bus firms “on planning bus networks which better suit the new travel patterns we have seen since the end of the pandemic”.

But Plaid Cymru MS Delyth Jewell has criticised the move to end emergency funding.

“Many people in valleys and rural communities rely on buses to get around – we cannot leave them without this vital infrastructure,” she said. “As it stands, the Labour Welsh Government’s cut to public transport will leave people stranded.”

Speaking to the Argus, Mr Davies said it was “extremely frustrating we cannot run a basic service from Blaenau Gwent to the Grange”.

He added: “I want to see the re-regulation of bus services and regional transport authorities which would deliver the route planning and management of transport services.”

But re-regulation itself provides a sticking point. Welsh ministers want to centralise management of bus travel, undoing decades of privatisation and, they hope, making it easier to integrate timetables and ticketing.

The plan, however, has met opposition from some councils that feel their control over local services is under threat, including Newport City Council, the sole shareholder of Newport Bus.