THREE wards at a Pembrokeshire hospital are set to re-open by Christmas.

Six wards at Withybush Hospital were closed due to the presence of Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) as Hywel Dda University Health Board declared a major internal incident back in August.

RAAC was commonly used in buildings between the 1960s and 1990s. The presence of it was also confirmed in a limited number at Bronglais Hospital and has been identified in a range of NHS properties and public buildings including schools across the UK.

After identifying the scale and impact of RAAC at the hospital, half of the hospital’s 12 wards were closed along with a number of areas on the ground floor and kitchen including outpatients and clinic rooms.

When the closure took place, patients in the affected wards were moved to other hospitals in the county. The health board has now confirmed that Ward 9 has re-opened and is bringing cardiac patients back into its 14-bed ward.

It is planned that Ward 12 will re-open in mid-November and Ward 7 is expected to re-open by the end of December.

Earlier this month, day surgery treatments restarted at the hospital but it is as elective inpatient surgery and is running at a low level whilst repair work continues.

The groundworks for the new field kitchen have begun and it is expected that this will be up and running by December 4. Currently, the kitchen is not operable and there is an interim food service for patients operating from the restaurant dining area and limited takeaway food available for staff.

Andrew Carruthers, the health board’s director of operations, 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.”

Work on the remaining wards is expected to be finished by the end of next March and the remedial work to ground floor locations such as the kitchen and outpatients area is expected to be completed in Spring 2025.