HEALTH bosses have admitted continuing pressures at Morriston Hospital's Accident and Emergency department — despite the unit having just undergone a £6 million refurbishment.
They say A&E staff have had to deal with exceptional levels of people suffering from the Norovirus, in addition to injuries suffered by people falling in the snow and ice.
The admission follows concerns about the department's capacity, raised by AM Byron Davies, after being approached by constituent Hywel Miles of Pontrhydyfen, who had visited the department with a patient.
Mr Miles said that there was not enough room in the department and staff were outside, treating people in ambulances, and there was also a shortage of beds at the hospital, with a knock-on effect on A&E.
Mr Davies said: "According to the board, the new unit is almost double the size of the old one. They say that trolley capacity has been increased with separate facilities for children. There has also been an increase in the number of beds for people with major injuries from 9 to 15. It is very disappointing to hear that these facilities were unable to cope especially as a new triage system has been introduced for ambulance patients who now have their own clinical team.
"I think that we are still suffering the knock-on effects of the recent closure of Neath Port Talbot Hospital to acute medical cases with the result that ambulances are bringing more people straight to Morriston.
"What will happen with the downgrading of Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli and the likely increase in patients coming from that area, again heading for Morriston? ABMU has been struggling in recent weeks. Just imagine what it would be like if there were no A&E in Bridgend?"
An ABMU Health Board spokeswoman said: "There has been a huge amount of pressure on A&E departments across South Wales in recent weeks.
"We have experienced very high numbers of Norovirus cases, which has resulted in a number of wards being closed. More beds have been provided in Morriston Hospital; however the level of Norovirus this year has been exceptional. The recent period of ice and snow has also resulted in an increase in the numbers of people arriving with fall injuries. We have also seen a higher number of patients presenting with serious medical conditions.
"The recently-finished expansion of A&E at Morriston Hospital is designed to improve and support the service we provide. Health Boards across South Wales are currently looking at ideas to change the way A&E services are provided,
"We recognise our performance figures are not as we would like them to be and we are continuing to do all we can to improve them."