‘This time is much more extreme, this is not what I saw the first time around’ says a theatre operator and photographer who captured the harrowing scenes inside a Welsh hospital
Patients lying prone to help with their acute breathing difficulties, nurses in full PPE comforting people in hospital beds with a gloved hand, and pressure etched on faces — this is the reality of life inside a Welsh intensive care unit.
It’s 10 months since the coronavirus pandemic led to a lockdown across the UK and hospitals in Wales are caring for more coronavirus patients than ever.
Dozens of ambulances queue outside hospitals, where critical care capacity is operating at up to 140% of its normal occupancy. The harsh reality is that there is a “material risk” of the NHS being overwhelmed over the next 21 days, according to Dr Frank Atherton and NHS Wales chief executive Dr Andrew Goodall.
This is a rare look inside one of those hospitals, The Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran, a new 560-bed, £350m hospital, which opened in November and is the home of accident and emergency and intensive care for Gwent.
It was opened ahead of schedule on November 2020 to help the health board to respond to seasonal pressures and the second wave of Covid-19. It very quickly found itself pleading with people to only attend A&E if they “absolutely need to” after services were put under a massive strain by the number of patients.
Covid-related hospital admissions in Wales
Theatre operator at the hospital, Glenn Dene, was given permission by the Aneurin Bevan health board to capture the heart-breaking reality of life there during the second wave of the pandemic. The 38-year-old from Abergavenny also fell victim to the virus just before Christmas and said he had “never felt fear like it”. You can read his story here.
With hospital admissions now at an all-time high across Wales, Glenn says that this second wave of coronavirus is having a huge effect on the health system. The Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which covers Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen , Newport, Caerphilly and Monmouthshire, had at one stage the most coronavirus cases per head in the UK and for a long time saw levels of above the national average.
With hospital admissions now at an all-time high across Wales, Glenn says that this second wave of coronavirus is having a huge effect on the health system: “This wave feels different to the first one, it’s bigger. We’ve also got a mixture of people so we see lots of younger people this time. This time is much more extreme, this is not what I saw the first time around.”