All non-urgent surgery, outpatient clinics and specialist nurse services are on hold in parts of South Wales as staff are redeployed to cope with a surge in coronavirus cases there.
A joint statement representing the three areas of Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf, and Merthyr Tydfil said that in the last week, the equivalent of almost four people acquired the virus every 10 minutes.
“The transmission rates in our council areas are in the highest 20 areas in the whole of the UK,” the statement said.
Urgent cancer services will continue and other urgent patients will be seen, a joint statement from Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Councils said, adding the region’s vaccination programme will continue.
“This decision has not been taken lightly as we know it will mean people in our communities will not be able to access some local NHS services and many patients will have to wait longer for outpatient appointments and operations.
“However, the rates of transmission and the associated rise in hospital admissions mean that there is no choice if we are to keep essential and emergency services running.”
Services that have been stood down include:
- All non-urgent outpatient clinics – this includes face to face and virtual
- All non-urgent planned surgery
- All specialist nurse clinics
- All non-urgent diagnostic services (eg radiology/endoscopy)
The move comes after the Welsh government said it was limiting mixing at Christmas to two households, rather than the previously announced three.
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The country will also go back into lockdown for three weeks from 28 December, closing all non-essential retail, hospitality venues and hairdressers.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said he wanted to tackle a “sustained rise” in COVID-19 infections across Wales.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that nearly 11,000 positive tests in Wales had not been added to the national figures after a software error.
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