IT’S quieter at Swansea Bay’s second largest hospital than normal – quite a lot quieter – with five wards empty as part of wider work to transform three hospitals in the region into centres of excellence.
The patients who would normally be looked after in these wards at Singleton Hospital are at Morriston Hospital, as are the nursing staff.
Swansea Bay University Health Board said Morriston Hospital has been able to accommodate the extra patient capacity, and that it would take a while to “re-purpose” the empty Singleton Hospital wards.
There are also some temporary ward moves at Singleton linked to ongoing cladding work, which the health board expects to be completed by the end of next March.
Under the centres of excellence strategy, Morriston Hospital is to focus on urgent and emergency care, complex care, specialist care and regional surgery.
Singleton, in Sketty, will be the centre of excellence for planned healthcare, women’s health, cancer care and diagnostic tests. And Neath Port Talbot Hospital will be the centre of excellence for spinal care and orthopaedics, such as hip and knee replacements. It will also be the centre for rehabilitation and rheumatology, outpatients, day surgery and the minor injuries unit.
Singleton Hospital has 12 wards, according to the health board’s website, and four other units including a maternity suite and neo-natal intensive care unit.
A health board spokeswoman said the centres of excellence model, which comes under a strategy called Changing for the Future, would enhance Singleton Hospital’s strengths in cancer, surgical and maternity services.
“This has led to some ward reconfiguration because those medical patients, particularly older people, who would previously have been admitted to Singleton for urgent care, are now taken to Morriston Hospital, which is on the way to becoming a centre of excellence for urgent and emergency care, specialist care and regional services,” she said. “All medical admissions were centralised at Morriston last December as part of this.”
She said: “Empty wards at Singleton will be re-purposed, but this will take time. Currently these areas are not staffed, with nursing resource being transferred to Morriston Hospital.”
She said the work to concentrate skills and specialisms at individual sites and reduce duplication of services could improve standards of care, safety and patient outcomes, while also addressing wider healthcare challenges.
Changing for the Future also aims to strengthen community services and “same day” emergency care to provide treatment in an environment which was right for patients and avoid the need for hospital admissions as much as possible.
Wales, like many Western countries, has some fundamental health and social care challenges – an ageing population, more people living with long-term health conditions, and staff recruitment and retention.
Analysis of likely NHS pressures over the next 10 to 25 years by Wales’s chief scientific adviser has found that 260,000 more people could be living with diabetes by 2035-36 in Wales than currently. The analysis said the number of Welsh adults who had a stroke could increase by 33% from 2015 to 2035. Rates of dementia would also rise. These conditions already have substantial health and social care costs associated with them.
But the analysis also said future developments in technology could have “significant implications for prolonged life expectancy, maintaining physical ability for older people and the range of conditions that can be managed at home”.