As the scale of the coronavirus pandemic becomes more apparent, the NHS in Wales is looking to expand its capacity by appropriating venues for field hospitals.

In England, work is underway to create what have been dubbed 'NHS Nightingale' hospitals with the flagship hospital being set up at London's ExCeL centre with a capacity between 4,000, and 5,000 beds.

On Friday, it was announced that a further two Nightingale hospitals would be constructed. One will be based at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, with a capacity of 5,000, and the Manchester Central Conference Centre, with a capacity of 1,000.

Throughout Wales work is being done to increase bed capacity.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We are working with NHS, the military and others to rapidly increase available staff, beds, equipment and consumables across Wales. This includes the use of ‘field hospitals’ and private hospitals. National and local plans are being finalised and will be put into action over the coming days."

Here's a breakdown of what has been announced so far in each health board area:

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

The biggest field hospital to be announced in Wales is the Principality Stadium in Cardiff city centre.

The Welsh Rugby Union has allowed the use of the national stadium by the Welsh Government and it will be turned into a 2,000-bed hospital.

So far, £8m in capital funding has been provided by the Welsh Government towards hospital and community beds at the stadium.

In a statement, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board CEO Len Richards said: “Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has been planning and making preparations based upon the modelling and predictions of numbers of patients and admissions across a range of different scenarios, including best to reasonable case scenarios.

“It is difficult looking at the numbers to appreciate the size and the scale of the task ahead of us in the NHS. However we have been using the past few weeks’ wisely in order to put structures and processes in place across our main hospital sites, University Hospital Wales and University Hospital Llandough.

A general view of the Principality Stadium with the roof open

“I understand the concern that this will cause, not only in the community but among my staff too. However we are planning on the basis of what we think we might need to ensure we are as ready as we can be. I sincerely hope we don’t need to use all of the capacity but it is far better to have developed plans based upon the scientific evidence and modelling of the experts.

“The staffing levels and type of patients received at the hospital is part of our planning and is constantly being refined in line with the trajectory of the Coronavirus. The facility will allow us to free up capacity at our other hospital sites so that we can continue to provide services to patients with other health conditions.

“Clinicians and managers are currently working with the Principality Stadium team and a range of specialist contractors to create the new facility at pace. The work has already started with teams assigned to adapt the home of Welsh rugby to a temporary hospital - a significant task in scale and the timing of the virus.

“I would like to thank everyone for their continued support of the NHS staff through an unprecedented and challenging time in health. Also across our society and communities: Please help us to help you by staying home, washing your hands and heeding the clinical advice to keep you and your families safe.”

Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

In Gwent there will be the partial and temporary opening of The Grange University Hospital on the site of Llanfrechfa Grange Hospital in Cwmbran.

It will provide around 350 additional hospital beds with work underway to get the hospital open by the end of April.

Glyn Jones, the health board's chief executive said: "We welcome the support from Welsh Government and Laing O’Rourke in enabling us to make earlier use of the new hospital, which will be an important part of our local plans in responding to the Coronavirus outbreak."

Construction of The Grange University Hospital in Llanfrechfa, near Cwmbran, is well under way

Swansea Bay University Health Board

A spokeswoman from the health board said they were unable to announce confirmed plans at this time.

She added: "The matter is still under consideration."

While there are no confirmed plans as of yet, the Liberty Stadium in Swansea has been offered to the NHS.

Swansea City chairman Trevor Birch gave an update on what the club was doing during the season break and revealed they are also working with local charity Matthew's House to feed the homeless.

He said: "These are certainly unprecedented and concerning times with the current coronavirus pandemic causing so much uncertainty and concern not just for football but, more importantly, for society in general.

"While we continue to wait for developments on the football front, the priority will always remain the wellbeing of our staff, players, supporters, their families and everyone within our local community. Our thoughts are with you all at this difficult time."

He added: "We have also offered the Liberty Stadium to the emergency services if they need additional space and resources to deal with the current situation, while we will ensure that we make at least 1,000 free match tickets available to NHS workers and other key personnel once the fixture programme restarts."

Swansea City have offered the use of the Liberty Stadium to the NHS if they need it

Hywel Dda University Health Board

The health board, which covers Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, has so far announced the most field hospitals in Wales.

These include:

Dr Phil Kloer, medical director and deputy chief executive at Hywel Dda UHB, said: "We have followed the situation in Italy closely to learn where possible and to help our planning. Our European colleagues have provided feedback that patient flow and throughput is a critical factor in response to COVID-19 pressures."

Andrew Carruthers, Hywel Dda UHB's director of operations, said: "Details in relation to these facilities are being developed with clinicians. These will be NHS managed facilities with many support services provided by the local authority and existing commercial partners.

"Developing these at pace is our priority and we hope that some elements of these facilities will be operational at the beginning of May.

"The Health Board is working very closely with all three of our local authorities to develop similar facilities and further information will be provided as these measures progress."

Parc y Scarlets rugby stadium, Llanelli, as construction work takes place in preparation for the installation of hospital beds during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

The health board said it had identified three sites to be developed into field hospitals and would be announcing them in the next few days.

It has also undertaken work at increasing capacity at all three of its main hospitals - Ysbyty Gwynedd, Glan Clwyd Hospital and Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

A health board spokesman said: "Three sites have been identified as the first to be developed into temporary field hospitals to care for patients with COVID-19. We are now working with our partners to finalise plans for these locations, and will share further information on them in the coming days.

"We have a phased escalation plan in place to significantly increase the number of beds for our most poorly patients over the coming weeks, with plans in place to increase our capacity of ventilated beds.

"We are also progressing opportunities to establish additional capacity within all of our hospitals. For example, construction work has already begun to install an additional 80 beds at Glan Clwyd Hospital, using void space left as part of the hospital’s recent redevelopment, which would be ready to use at the end of April.

Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor

"At the same time, primary and community care services are working hard to keep people well and out of crisis. This will ensure that our specialist acute services are available for those people who need them.

"We are also undertaking measures to increase the number of staff we have available to care for patients. So far we have had more than 200 people express an interest in joining our staff banks or in a fixed term contract. The bank teams are working to get these nursing, midwifery, medical and dental staff registered and available to work as quickly as possible.

"More than 1,100 staff currently in non-clinical areas have also joined a database of staff who can be redeployed to support clinical areas when needed.

"We are also making provisions available to keep all of our staff safe. Suitable and sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available and more stock is arriving for distribution over the coming days and weeks. This week we took delivery of a significant supply of PPE which will bolster our stock for the immediate future."

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board

The health board has yet to announce any field hospitals at this stage.

There has been an increase in capacity at hospitals in Merthyr Tyfil , Rhondda Cynon Taf and Bridgend.

At the Prince Charles Hospital in Methyr Tydfil, clinical and non-clinical staff successfully increased the critical care capacity from eight beds to 22 at the end of last week.

This department will now be used specifically for coronavirus cases.

An increase in intensive care capacity has been replicated at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant and the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.

Prince Charles hospital, Merthyr Tydfil.

Construction workers are also currently working on the emergency department at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital, helping to construct more cubicles in preparation for patients with Covid-19.

On top of infrastructure changes across the health board all critical care unit staff have received training designed to treat those with Covid-19.

The health board has also been working to reassure staff and announced on Friday they now have five staff testing units operational across the health board, increasing the facilities from one to five over the last five days.

Powys Teaching Heath Board

The health board has yet to announce any field hospitals at this stage.

A spokesman said: "In response to the coronavirus situation, we are implementing a range of measures to protect the health and well-being of patients, communities and staff in the months ahead. This includes making temporary changes to the way we deliver some of our services.

"We hope you will understand that we must reprioritise how we deliver our services this extremely challenging time. Our focus is on keeping patients safe, and ensuring everything possible is done to provide care to those who need it the most – whilst doing all we can to support our staff as you will also be experiencing the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in your work and personal lives.



"One temporary change we will be making from this week is to transfer patients who have higher level health & nursing needs from Panpwnton Ward at Knighton Community Hospital to Llandrindod Wells Memorial Hospital, where the number of beds will be increased.

"This will enable us to provide a dedicated environment in mid Powys for those patients with higher level health & nursing needs.

"Once this has been completed we will continue our work with social care and third sector partners to put in place a new temporary model of care in Knighton. Our intention is that Knighton will be a dedicated local facility for vulnerable older people who are unable to stay at home due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) but who do not need the higher level health care that will be temporarily provided at Llandrindod Wells Memorial Hospital."