Wales hospital crisis: Army on standby as 'black alert' issued for Labour-run service

University Hospital of Wales

The army is on standby after Wales' largest hospital issued a black alert

Mick Lobb
Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler

Published: 07/11/2023

- 15:02

Updated: 08/11/2023

- 12:03

The Conservatives have described the situation as 'serious'

The British army is on standby after Wales' largest hospital issued a black alert.

The University Hospital of Wales, Wales’ largest hospital, said that it was suffering a "significant and sustained adverse demand" on services.

It said that the alert was the result of "winter operational pressures, coupled with limited bed availability".

During such alerts, agency staff can be called in to help, with even the military sometimes called upon.

Russell George blamed the Welsh Government for the issues

Welsh Conservative shadow health minister, Russell George, said: "This serious situation at the University Hospital of Wales epitomises the crisis at the heart of our Labour-run health service.

"The fact that the military may well have to be drafted in to save Wales’ biggest hospital is to Labour’s shame as they have run our health service into the ground for 25 years.

"During this black alert, staff will have to be diverted meaning further delays in our Welsh NHS which are already the most pronounced in the UK with the equivalent of one-in-four of the population on a waiting list and over 27,000 waiting two or more years, compared with virtually none in England.

"The Welsh Conservatives want to see a properly resourced and reliable Welsh NHS, with the full Barnett consequential allocated to our health service.


"Labour are the only government in the UK to have ever cut a health budget as they have here in Wales, in favour of blanket 20mph speed limits and more politicians."

On Tuesday, November 7 a "Business Continuity Incident" was issued - the highest level 5 which is also known as a black alert.

A statement from the hospital said the alert is "attributed to lengthy patient discharges, the Health Board is currently experiencing unprecedented ambulance delays."

They said the Health Board continues to "work collaboratively with colleagues from the Local Authorities to support the onward discharge of medically fit patients from home".

During a black alert, the health board diverts staff from non-acute areas of healthcare and enlist the help of more agency staff.

An urgent plea has also been issued to the public to help get their loved ones discharged from hospitals as soon as they're medically fit, rather than waiting for packages of care to be set up.

The statement added: "To support colleagues to prioritise the care and immediate needs of patients who require urgent medical attention, we are appealing to members of the public within the communities to use services appropriately.

"There has been a recent increase in patients self-presenting with long-standing medical issues that can be effectively managed outside of the emergency unit and/or a hospital setting."

A similar black alert was issued by the hospital's health board in May after it faced "unprecedented levels of pressure".

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