PATIENTS are to be relocated from a west Wales hospital after Hywel Dda Health Board declared an internal major incident.
The health boards has this afternoon declared an internal major incident at Withybush Hospital as it seeks to identify the scale and impact of the Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) found in the hospital building.
The health board has decided to declare an internal major incident in relation to RAAC at Withybush Hospital to enable it to stand up its command and control structures (Gold, Silver and Bronze).
RAAC is a material that was commonly used in the construction of buildings between the 1960s and 1990s.
In a statement, the health board said: "Its presence has been confirmed at Withybush Hospital and at a limited part of Bronglais Hospital. It has also been identified at a range of NHS properties across the UK, including several properties in Wales.
"The health board is working with a Welsh Government approved external contractor to identify the scale of the issue – this involves surveying each of the RAAC planks on site. Where structural issues are identified, the extent of the remedial work is also being assessed.
"Plans were put in place in May 2023, at the start of the survey process, to manage the impact on the operation of day-to-day services at the hospital and prioritise the availability of hospital beds.
"However, as they survey progresses the scale of the issues identified is putting additional pressure on the availability of clinical space and is likely to have a knock-on impact on services.
"To date, three wards in Withybush Hospital have needed to close due to the condition of the RAAC planks found, with the situation being managed and patients relocated to other health board locations in Pembrokeshire.
"Our intention is to manage as much of the relocation of patients within Pembrokeshire as possible.
"While best efforts are being made to conduct survey work as quickly as possible, the resulting findings of the survey work is, in some cases, requiring patients to be moved from wards to alternative locations and adapting services to reflect the availability of the site.
"As time progresses, this is likely to have an impact on other health board services at other sites as we move patients and services to alternate locations. Local mitigations are also being put in place, including structural props and temporary closure of impacted areas.
"Unless notified otherwise, patients should continue to attend their appointments and access services at Withybush Hospital as usual. However, this may be subject to change at short notice. Wherever possible, patients will be communicated with directly should a change be made to the service or clinic they are due to attend.
"We know that the survey work and remedial action can cause considerable disruption and concern amongst members of our community and we apologise for any inconvenience caused. The health board would like to thank hospital staff, patients and visitors for their patience and understanding over the coming months while we carry out this essential work."