THE number of Covid-19 patients attending the Grange University Hospital has “tripled” over the last week, one of Gwent's top doctors has said – but they are not critically ill.

Intensive Care Consultant, Dr David Hepburn, has offered insight into the current situation in the intensive treatment unit (ITU) at Grange Hospital, where things are reportedly going “better than they have been for a long time”.

But he mentioned issues with staff levels and high admissions in the wider hospital.

He states that “for the minute things are looking really good” in his department with fewer patients in the ITU with Covid-19 than they’ve had in months, attributing this to the vaccination rollout. 

But, he adds that staff shortages in the wider hospital – due to people getting sick or isolating – combined with the “sheer number” of patients coming in is causing a strain on services, particularly within the emergency department.”

This has had a "big effect on the services that we can deliver here and has caused delays to some operations and to some outpatient clinics" said Dr Hepburn.

What he said in full:

“Things are going really well in intensive care – better than they have been for a long time.

“We’ve got less patients now than we’ve had for months, from a Covid point of view, which is really really good, and I think is good evidence that the vaccine works really well and makes a huge difference to the number of people getting really unwell.

“So I think we’re in a pretty good shape and considering where we’ve been over the past couple of years, we’re having a bit of a breather at the minute and it’s fantastic.

“Now whether that will last, I don’t know. It might just be that we’re a few weeks behind London and everywhere else but for the minute, things are looking really good.”

“The bigger problem really is the wider hospital – we’ve got lots of staff that are off sick or isolating because they’ve got Covid or they’ve tested positive and that’s had a big effect on the services that we can deliver here and has caused delays to some operations and to some outpatient clinics.

“So that’s more of a problem really and the fact that we are still getting a lot of admissions of people suffering from Covid, thankfully they’re not critically ill so they don’t end up with us on ITU but there’s still a lot of people coming through the front door.

The numbers have really tripled over the last week or so and they show no signs of letting up, so that’s putting a  strain on  the hospital, particularly the front end of the hospital, like the emergency department who  are really struggling – combination of staff shortages and the sheer numbers of patients coming in – to deliver a  safe service."