A FINAL decision on the opening date for Gwent's new hospital could be just weeks away, the Welsh health minister said.

The Grange University Hospital, in Llanfrechfa, Cwmbran, will treat the most-seriously ill patients in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) area.

Originally scheduled to open in spring 2021, the hospital could be ready to receive patients by November this year, ABUHB confirmed last month.

Speaking to the Argus yesterday, health minister Vaughan Gething said an exact opening date for the new hospital was still being reviewed.

"I’m considering the proposal about how early the Grange can open, and I hope to be in a position to make a definitive decision within the next few weeks," he said.

Mr Gething was at ABUHB's Royal Gwent Hospital, in Newport, yesterday, to meet some of the health workers who had been caring for Covid-19 patients.

Among them was intensive care consultant David Hepburn, who said his department would need to use the Grange University Hospital in the event that coronavirus cases began to surge again in Gwent.

READ MORE: Extra ICU capacity for Gwent if second wave of Covid-19 hits

"We never had one of these Nightingale hospitals planned for Gwent, so our plan for surge was always the new hospital," he said. "It’s been finished ahead of time, so all plans for the winter – if we do get another surge – hinge on us being in there."

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Dr Hepburn (pictured above) added: "[At the Grange] we can increase our capacity to 120 ventilated beds.

"I hope to God we don’t need them, but we can do it.

"That’s really a key part of our response to any further pandemic."