Urgent cancer surgery in the Hywel Dda Health Board area is to be temporarily concentrated on two hospitals as part of the latest actions to protect health and care provision for the most critically ill.

With an estimated 10 per cent of staff absent, due to Covid and non-Covid-related reasons; a high incidence of Omicron cases and the high demand for non-Covid care, the board has put a number of measures in place today, Friday, January 7.  

This is to enable provision of emergency and urgent care for patients in the safest way possible during the coming weeks.

A spokesman for the board said: "An appeal is being made for the continued support of our staff and communities to keep Hywel Dda safe as we face this new phase of the pandemic."

To maintain delivery of the most urgent cancer surgery in the short term, this will be undertaken for the Hywel Dda population from Prince Philip Hospital in Llanelli, with the exception of head and neck urgent cancer surgery, which will continue at Glangwili General Hospital, in Carmarthen.

The spokesman said: "Our clinicians believe that concentrating the majority of our urgent care resources onto one site during the next few weeks is the best way to protect the delivery of this potentially life-saving surgery.

"This position will be continually reviewed and we will seek to re-establish urgent cancer surgery at our other main hospitals as soon as we can do so safely.

"We ask patients and families to support us and travel for their surgery.

"If you have no means to travel for your surgery, then please contact us on our Covid enquiries line on 0300 303 8322 or email COVID Enquiries.hdd@wales.nhs.uk

"Outpatient and therapy appointments and clinics will be prioritised for the most urgent patients over the next few weeks.

"With the exception of a small number of emergency cases and some children’s appointments, we will reschedule outpatient appointments next week.

"Patients will be re-booked according to clinical urgency in subsequent weeks. Unless you are contacted directly by the health board, please attend any appointment as scheduled.

Director of operations, Andrew Carruthers said: “We apologise to anyone affected adversely by these actions and it remains our ambition, always, to re-establish our planned care services as soon as we are able to, knowing the impact this has on people’s lives.”

Director of nursing, quality and patient experience, Mandy Rayani, added: “We are so grateful to our staff who continue to work in difficult circumstances, always driven by the desire to provide the best care possible to our population.

"We are asking our staff to be vigilant about the behaviours we know reduce transmission of Covid-19 at work and at home; and our public can also play a significant role in supporting the NHS and each other by also adhering to these principles.

"Unfortunately we are seeing more abuse targeted at our staff and we will not tolerate this.

"Health and care staff – from the clinicians to the support teams and call handlers in primary, community and hospital teams – provide a service to help our patients and communities and they should never be the victims of abuse, physical or verbal.

"Please help us to help you.”