Three of the six wards at Withybush Hospital which were closed due to the presence of RAAC planks are expected to be re-opened by Christmas.

In August, Hywel Dda University Health Board declared an internal major incident at the Pembrokeshire hospital in order to identify the scale and impact of the Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) found in the hospital building.

This resulted in the closure of six of the hospital’s 12 wards along with areas on the ground floor and kitchen, including outpatients and clinic rooms.

Ward 9 at the Haverfordwest hospital has already reopened and is introducing cardiac patients back to its 14-bed space. Another ward – Ward 12 – is due to re-open in mid-November. Ward 7 is expected to be completed by the end of December.

Work has already begun on the groundworks for the new field kitchen which is expected to be up and running by 4 December.

The kitchen is currently out of bounds with an interim food service for patients operating from the restaurant dining area, with limited takeaway food available for staff.

Day Surgery treatments restarted in Withybush Hospital earlier this month although elective inpatient surgery at Withybush is currently running at a low level while repair work continues.

Work on the remaining wards is expected to be completed by the end of March 2024 with remedial work to ground floor locations, including the kitchen and outpatients’ area, expected to continue until Spring 2025.

Director of Operations Andrew Carrurthers said: “We are very pleased that the wards which were closed while we undertook essential repair work to the RAAC concrete planks are now either operating as normal or will be by Spring 2024.

“This has been a difficult time for staff as they have had to adapt very quickly to a fast-changing situation and in some cases have had to work at different locations within the health board. They have showed incredible teamwork and resilience during a very challenging time, so I would like to thank them for their support.

“We have tried to keep disruption to a minimum, but I know patients and members of the public have also been affected by the ongoing survey and repair work. Some have had to be treated at alternative locations within the health board area, so my thanks to them for their patience and understanding.

“Survey and repair work will continue until Spring 2025, so there is some way to go before Withybush hospital returns to a normal service. We will continue to engage with our staff, patients and the public and keep them informed of the latest development.”

RAAC is a material that was commonly used in the construction of buildings between the 1960s and 1990s. 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 and other public buildings such as schools, across the UK.