Building work to replace Heath Hospital in Cardiff could begin in 2025
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Building work to replace the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff with a new hospital could begin in 2025.
The replacement hospital would take a planned three years to build, opening at the beginning of 2028. It is unclear if the new hospital would be built either on its current site or elsewhere.
The University Hospital of Wales (UHW), at the Heath, is the largest hospital in Wales.
Designed in the 1950s and built between 1962 and 1971, the 1,000-bed hospital is now running out of space for the latest advancements in healthcare technology.
Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which runs the UHW, has now asked the Welsh Government for funding to draw up detailed plans to replace the hospital with a new one. University Hospital Llandough would also be refurbished and extended.
Abigail Harris, executive director of strategic planning at Cardiff and Vale UHB, said: “Modern acute hospital healthcare needs very different environments to those designed 50 years ago, and while our staff do an amazing job to provide services at UHW, the time is right to look at the facilities we need for the future.”
While plans to replace the hospital were first revealed in 2019, new details were made public in a recent health board report, which set out the programme business case for ‘UHW2’. Last month, the health board officially asked the Welsh Government for funding to draw up plans.
It is unclear how much UHW2 would cost to build, as financial details were redacted from the report. A spokesman for the health board declined to answer questions on building costs.
UHW2 could be designed to better respond to future pandemics. A current “lack of hot/cold functional separation resulting in contamination” is listed in the business case as one current position highlighting the case for change.
“Hot and cold” sites were brought in during the coronavirus pandemic to separate infected patients from the rest of the hospital. The new designs could mean separating patients more easily in the new hospital to prevent the spread of highly contagious diseases like Covid-19.
Rebuilding UHW could bring jobs to the regional economy during construction, attract new staff to work for the health board, and help gain research investment from life sciences. Part of the plan would see a life sciences quarter, working with Cardiff University and the industry.
The Welsh Government will likely consider the case for a new UHW hospital only after the Senedd election on May 6. If approved, the next stage would see the health board drawing up a ‘strategic outline case’, looking at the project in much more detail.
Ms Harris said: “The health board has submitted a programme business case to the Welsh Government setting out the case for replacing UHW, and developing acute hospital services fit for the future, including further development of University Hospital Llandough.
“At this stage, site options for building a replacement have not yet been considered in detail as this happens at a later stage in the business case process.
“We anticipate the Welsh Government will consider the programme business case once the new government is formed.”
The health board is currently consulting the public on how clinical services across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan could change over the next decade. The changes will likely see much more services offered closer to local communities and away from larger hospitals.