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£7.3m to improve specialist burns unit at Morriston Hospital, Swansea

A £7.3 MILLION plan to move a specialist burns unit which struggles to recruit anaesthetists to a new area within Swansea’s Morriston Hospital has been approved by health chiefs.

The hospital is home to the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery, which treats about 1,000 patients a year from an area which stretches from Aberystwyth in West Wales to as far as Oxford and Plymouth, in England.

The centre’s standalone intensive care unit closed for a period during 2021 due to shortage of anaesthetists, despite recruitment attempts, leading to an external review.

The plan now is to co-locate the burns intensive care unit with the hospital’s general intensive care to make the service sustainable, but investment is required to meet the particular needs of burns patients.

The £7.3m will create three burns cubicles and a convert an operating theatre to ensure its suitability for burns patients.

Speaking at a health board meeting, chairwoman Emma Woollett said: “It’s really good to see this coming forward. It was an issue of great concern when it raised its head, and it’s good this is moving forward at pace.”

The project is to be funded by the Welsh Government, which will now assess the £7.3m business case.

Darren Griffiths, the health board’s director of finance and performance, said a preferred supplier had been identified and that the work should take eight or nine months.

Proposals for a second, larger phase of work will be developed to refurbish the existing burns intensive care unit and expand the hospital’s general intensive care capacity. This second piece of work is estimated to cost nearly £38m, and would need further Welsh Government approval at a later date.