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Two new operating theatres to be built at the Heath Hospital

10 Apr 2021 3 minute read
University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff. Picture by Mick Lobb (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter

Two new operating theatres are set to be built at the Heath Hospital in Cardiff for life-saving surgery.

A major trauma theatre and a vascular theatre will be built at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), with new state-of-the-art technology.

Major trauma means injuries that are life-threatening or life-changing; and the new major trauma centre in Cardiff will be Wales’s first. Vascular relates to arteries and veins and new techniques in vascular surgery mean current theatres are too small to fit in large machines.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board can now press ahead with building the two new theatres after receiving planning permission last week. Details of how the new theatres will look and the medical need for them were revealed in planning documents.

Major trauma centre

UHW was recently made the major trauma centre for south and west Wales and south Powys. This means the most severely injured patients could be taken there instead of the nearest emergency department.

About one in 1,000 patients arriving at emergency departments will have major trauma. UHW becoming the major trauma centre means the hospital needs to invest in a major trauma theatre for emergency surgery, which is larger than conventional surgery theatres.

Advances in vascular surgery also mean specialist theatres now need to be much larger. Radiology scanners are now recommended to be used during operations, as surgeons move away from open surgical procedures to minimally invasive treatments.

The new hybrid vascular surgery theatre will include a radiology scanner within the theatre, so patients can be scanned during operations, meaning they can be treated in a single session rather than separate radiological and surgical procedures.

The two new theatres will be built along Academic Avenue, attaching to tower block two to the western edge of the hospital. They will link to the existing theatre suite and recovery area on the third floor.

UHW was built between 1962 and 1971, and has 1,000 beds. The hospital is the largest in Wales and the third largest in the United Kingdom.

Building the new theatres will use new modular construction techniques, where the theatres will be built off site and then brought to the hospital. The new techniques minimise disruption at the hospital, mean building isn’t affected by rainy weather, and limit waste.

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