Covid: NHS risks becoming national coronavirus service

Covid: NHS risks becoming national coronavirus service

Wales’ NHS is in danger of becoming the “national coronavirus service” due to a rising number of Covid patients, the first minister has said.

Mark Drakeford said unless “we take all the action we can [not just] as a government, but as a population”, even more restrictions would be “unavoidable”.

One Welsh health board has said its hospitals faced “significant pressure”.

On Saturday, the number of positive Covid-19 tests passed 100,000 in Wales.

Mr Drakeford said: “The huge danger here is that we transform our National Health Service into a national coronavirus service.

“If the numbers continue to go up as they are, then we will end up diverting our staff resources away from all the things that we expect and need them to do, simply to take care of an ever-rising number of people who are so ill with this dreadful disease that they have to be looked after in hospital.

“We need our health service to be able to respond to all those other things that happen in people’s lives in Wales.

“If the numbers continue to escalate in the way they are then, even more restrictions straight after Christmas seem to me to be unavoidable,” he told BBC Radio Wales’ Sunday Supplement.

He has previously said the coronavirus situation was “very difficult” but not out of control.

On Saturday, the family of Ted Edwards, 73, from Monmouthshire, said they were “really concerned” after he spent more than 19 hours in an ambulance outside the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran after being taken ill.

The Welsh Ambulance Service said it was “facing high demand” across the country “with acute pressure” around the hospital leading to “some long delays with patients on our ambulances”.

A spokeswoman from Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said the pressure on its hospitals were having a “significant impact on our staffing levels”.

It is halting outpatient appointments and non-urgent planned surgery from Monday.

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