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Llandarcy Field Hospital handed back to sports academy

Beds and equipment at Llandarcy Field Hospital will shortly be relocated to Bay Field Hospital so the building can be handed back, with grateful thanks, to the Llandarcy Academy of Sport.

Llandarcy Field Hospital was built at lightning speed in early spring, as the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Thankfully, it wasn’t needed, as Swansea Bay UHB’s main hospitals and services were able to cope.

Communities helped to flatten the wave of COVID-19 infections by responding responsibly and positively to lockdown restrictions, preventing local cases from spiking too high and overwhelming services.

But had the first wave been as severe as some predictions warned at the time, having extra beds ready and waiting at Llandarcy would have likely saved lives.

The short-term lease for Llandarcy is now coming to an end, and as the Academy of Sport gets ready for the new college term, it’s time for the health board to hand the building back.

The beds and equipment will be transferred to Bay Field Hospital. The Fabian Way ‘Bay Studios’ hospital was more complicated to build, so took longer to get ready than Llandarcy. But that work is now largely completed and the building is big enough to accommodate all Llandarcy’s transferred beds.

Construction of the Bay Studios hospital was a joint effort between Swansea Council’s experienced building services team, SBUHB and contractors Kier and TRJ.

Swansea Bay UHB chief executive, Tracy Myhill, said:

“We are very grateful to the Llandarcy Academy of Sport, NTPC Group of Colleges, and Neath Port Talbot Council for their incredible support over the last few months.

“Our thanks, too, to Roy Thomas, the owner of Bay Studios, for being so accommodating and resourceful at very short notice, and the Ospreys, for so kindly giving up their training space at Llandarcy.

“Without their help and support this would never have been possible. However, it is now time to leave the Llandarcy site.

“As we have a second facility at Bay, we are in the fortunate position of having an alternative solution.

“This means we are still prepared for a potential second wave while at the same time not causing undue disruption to businesses that need to come back online for the economic good of the area.”

She added:

“The initial response was based on the scientific modelling which the Welsh Government accepted.

“It was about hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. We still have sufficient capacity to cope with a second peak as we are consolidating everything into Bay.

“We knew Llandarcy could be progressed quicker than Bay and would be available first, if needed.

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“However, Bay has now been completed so we can transfer the facilities at Llandarcy there, and operate as a single site.”

Consolidating field hospital services onto one site will also provide greater efficiency in terms of staffing, as the workforce will not be spread across two sites.

Bay is located between Neath Port Talbot and Swansea, with excellent transport links and extensive car parking.

Chris White, Swansea Bay UHB Chief Operating Officer said:

“The excellent response by the public to social distancing measures means we have been able to care for COVID-19 patients within the additional capacity we have built into our main hospitals.

“However the virus is still here and we do not know what the future will bring, so having Bay ready in case we need it is very important.”

The Bay Field Hospital has already supported Covid-19 antibody testing for thousands of healthcare and education staff, and is on standby as a potential vaccination centre.

Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council Cllr Rob Jones said:

“April of this year saw a phenomenal joint effort between Neath Port Talbot Council’s design and architecture team, the contractors, Andrew Scott Ltd and NPTC Group of Colleges to plan and deliver Llandarcy Field Hospital in under a month. Thanks to local people observing social distancing measures the worst case scenario we were asked to prepare for did not transpire.

“However, the close partnership working between Swansea Bay UHB and the two local authorities is ongoing as we move into the autumn and winter months. The virus has not gone away and we will all need to continue working together to keep Neath Port Talbot and Swansea Safe.”

Mark Dacey, CEO and Principal of NPTC Group of Colleges said the college was prepared to do whatever it could to help support the community during the Covid-19 pandemic, but now staff would be working to get the first class sports facility back up and running.

“As well as hundreds of students that use the facility it is also open to the community as a leisure and sports facility and used by many sporting organisations. Everyone has been supportive and we would like to thank them for their patience during this very difficult and challenging time. We have, and will continue to work closely with the Local Health Board to provide temporary facilities to members and users of Llandarcy Academy of Sport and these will continue to operate until the facility is restored in the near future.”

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